Melanzane alla Parmigiana - a simple classic

 

I recently heard someone mention this Italian favourite and it reminded me that I hadn’t made it for close to a quarter of a century, a situation I decided to remedy as soon as poss.

In this day and age, I rarely find it necessary to salt and bleed the aubergines of their bitter juices. Having said that, the organic ones do seem to require it still, a good sign no doubt.

If you feel like giving this a middle eastern twist, add cumin seeds to the onion, fresh coriander to the sauce.

 

Preheat oven to 200C

Equipment

1 oven tray, preheated in the oven above

1 oven to table serving dish

 

Serves 2 – 4

 

2 large, firm, glossy skinned aubergines

1 red onion, peeled and sliced

3 - 4 tbs olive oil

dash Tabasco, or chilli sauce, optional

2 balls mozzarella, sliced

1 tin chopped tomatoes

400g fresh tomatoes, blanched and skins removed

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 

75g freshly grated Parmesan

1 handful parsley, incl small sprigs for garnish

Salt and pepper

 

Rinse the aubergines and dry them off, trim the tops off and slice them across the length, in 1 centimetre thick slices.

Brush generously with the olive oil (about half of it) and lay side by side, with room to breathe, onto the hot tray.

If you haven’t previously salted them(see intro), season now with salt and pepper and a dash of Tabasco, or some other chilli sauce.

Roast for about 20 – 25 minutes, till golden brown on both sides and tender through and through.

Meanwhile, fry the red onion in the remaining olive oil till translucent and add the garlic for a minute before adding the tomatoes, both the tinned and the fresh, blanched and chopped and season with salt and pepper.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer down, till well reduced, about 20 minutes, though longer if necessary. It mustn’t be at all watery.

Ladle enough sauce on the bottom of your dish to cover it, then start layering the aubergine slices, the mozzarella slices and the tomato sauce, till all are used up. 

Scatter with the grated Parmesan and place under a grill, till cheese melts and bubbles, molten and golden. The sprigs of parsley on top and you are ready to eat.

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