Thin layers of fried Aubergine, in a rich tomato sauce topped with a little mozzarella and Parmesan. This is one of my favourite Italian dishes and it’s fab for a dinner with friends, served with some roasted meat or fish. I cooked this for one of my Vegetarian friends and served it alongside a simple salad and some Foccacia to mop up the sauce.
Serves 4-6. You will need a deep baking dish.
The Sauce (I use exactly the same sauce that I make for my ’Spaghetti and Meatballs’)
Tins of Chopped tomatoes – 4 x 400g
Garlic, smashed lightly – 3 cloves
Oregano – 1/2 teaspoon
Basil – 5 – 10 Fresh leaves
Salt – 1 teaspoon but season as you prefer, this is how much I add though.
Aubergine – 4-5 good sized ones
Plain Flour – Approx. 200g. (enough to coat your slices of aubergine)
Fresh Mozzarella torn into small pieces- 125g
Parmesan grated – Couple of handfuls
The Sauce: In a large saucepan pour enough oil to coat the bottom of your pan, heat the oil on a moderate heat and add your garlic. Cook the garlic until just turning golden. Now add your tomatoes and salt and bring to the boil ( I always swill my tomato cans out with a little water and chuck that in there too). Reduce the heat and simmer for around 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.
Once it has thickened and reduced slightly, add the basil, oregano and black pepper. If you have a stick blender I like to blend mine, if not just tear your basil up before you put it in. Done! Just leave that in the pot for now.
The Aubergines: Whilst the sauce is cooking, slice your Aubergines lengthways with a thickness of around 1/2cm. Generously sprinkle salt over both sides of the Aubergines and place them into a Colander in the sink or somewhere the liquid can drain to. Place a plate and a heavy saucepan on top of the Aubergines and leave them for 30 minutes to an hour. This will pull any excess water from them.
When they are ready, rinse the Aubergines well to remove the salt and lay onto a cloth or paper towel to remove excess liquid. Coat each slice of Aubergine slice with a light dusting of flour and place onto a tray ready to fry.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°c.
Take a large and deep sided frying pan, pour enough Olive oil to reach about 1cm depth on the pan. Place on a medium heat and test to see when the oil is hot enough by dipping one of the piecs of Aubergine into the the oil, if it sizzles straight away it is ready.
Cook the Aubergine in batches, laying them onto paper towel when they are cooked. You will need to fry them for a few minutes either side until they are a light golden colour.
Assembly: Lay 1/4 of the Aubergine onto the bottom of the baking dish, slight overlapping. Now spoon some of the sauce over this, smooth it out evenly and sprinkle around 1/3 of the Mozzarella and parmesan over the top. Now repeat this until you have used all the ingredients. Finish the dish off with a layer of tomato sauce and a good sprinkling of Parmesan.
Place the dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until golden and bubbling. Leave it to stand for 10 minutes before you serve it. Its also delicious served cold the next day!
– You can prepare this well in advance of your guests coming, keep it in the fridge and pop it in the oven when required.
-If you are feeling highly efficient, grab yourself a couple of those disposable baking trays and double the recipe. Then pop it on the freezer and you’ve got one for another night or emergency. It will keep for up to a month.