Melanzane Parmigiana – aubergines (or eggplants) Italian style!

It’s August, and while the sun has got his hat on, I have my sweater on (it’s chilly).  The UK isn’t known for the most amazing summers, but a few forkfuls of this rich aubergine dish (complemented by a good glass of red) will transport you in mind and spirit to the balmy climes of Sicily.   

Way healthier than lasagne, just as comforting

Way healthier than lasagne, just as comforting

Rich in anti oxidant and free radical fighting compounds, aubergines are also high in fibre.  Layering the soft aubergine with rich tomato and cheese is reminiscent of lasagne making it a great wheat and gluten free alternative (lighter in calories too).

The traditional way to make this dish is with fried aubergines.  This is fine, but given how aubergines suck up any oil in their midst, but I prefer to grill them with no oil on a dry griddle pan, or even better on the BBQ.  This gives a cleaner taste, and removes some of the moisture in the aubergine, leaving a richer dish, and removing the risk of a sloppy/watery finished article! 

Ingredients (serves 4 as a main, or 6 as a side – delicious with chicken escalopes)

3 large Aubergines

400g passata or tinned toms

Large onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

oil (I use avocado, why? rapeseed or olive is also fine)

Dried oregano

Bay leaf

Salt and pepper to taste

300g Parmesan finely grated

150g mozarella

Handful of breadcrumbs

Method

Preheat the oven to 180c degrees.  Start by making the tomato sauce (it seems to get better the longer it’s cooked for, so I always do this first). Heat the onion and garlic with a splash of oil, stirring over a medium heat for 15 minutes or so, until the onions and garlic are translucent but not coloured.  Add the passata, a good pinch of oregano, salt and pepper and the bay leaf.  Leave this on a low heat, covered (you aren’t looking for it to reduce too much) for at least half an hour, if possible an hour or two.  Stirring often so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom.  You can do this up to a day ahead, and leave the sauce covered in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

Slice the aubergine lengthways into slices of about 1cm thickness, get a BBQ or griddle pan nice and hot, and cook dry for about 15 minutes on a meadow heat.  You want nice char lines on the aubergines And for them to be lightly cooked through. Soft, but not mushy (or burned…)

When you are ready, choose an ovenproof dish that you can serve the food in, and layer the ingredients up. First a thin layer of sauce, then a layer of aubergines, then a sprinkling of parmesan and a couple of lumps of mozzarella.  Then start again with the tomato sauce, continuing until you finish with a big scattering of parmesan and the rest of the mozzarella.  Toss the breadcrumbs with some olive oil and a pinch of oregano, and sprinkle over before baking for 30 minutes or so at 180 degrees, or until you have a soft middle and a bubbling golden top.

 

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Categories: Summer Family Recipes

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  1. Italian Stuffed Aubergines with Lamb | Family Fork - March 10, 2015

    […] traditional melanzana alla parmigiana is a favourite Italian dish of mine, we usually have it as a side.  It can however be a little […]

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