Ahhh summer! What is better than enjoying a meal made of fresh products and with plenty of taste like aubergine parmigiana!
Every time I cook “melanzane alla parmigiana” that how we call it in Italy, I remember when I was young (oh gosh did I really said that?!) and still living there. I used to go in my kitchen garden and walk in the middle of rows of tomatoes plants, cucumbers, courgettes… big plants of basil and rosemary… I still remember their strong lovely summery smell! aaawww good times…
Life in Edinburgh is a bit different, at the moment we have no garden SO I created a bit of Italian country side… in my kitchen! I periodically buy pot of fresh basil, mint, thyme, parsley – I say periodically as most of the time they die after 6 weeks 🙁 – no much of a green thumb am I? –
I created my own little corner of fresh herbs and every time I can, I add them to my dishes as I strongly believe fresh herbs make the difference. Plus if I feel nostalgic of my Italian life , I take few leaves of basil… I smell them with my eyes close… and for few minutes (or until Beatrice interrupts the dream by demanding “succo” – juice -) I “go back” to that garden.
Aubergine parmesan is a very easy recipe and although the traditional recipe instructs you to fry the aubergines, I personally go for the lighter and less smelly option for your flat, to grill them.
First gather your ingredients which are:
2 mozzarellas around 125 gr each
2 medium size aubergines
plenty of grated parmesan
lots of fresh basil
700 ml of tomato salsa (sieved tomato passata)
1 basil stock cube (if you can’t find it then just use fresh basil)
salt and pepper
First thing to do is slicing the aubergines up, the slices should be around 1cm thick. Get your griddle pan and when it is really hot you can start placing the sliced aubergine and grill them on both sides until lightly charred. Once you have grilled all of them just put them aside.
Cut the mozzarella into 1 cm thick slices or you just torn them up in pieces. By leaving them aside you make sure they loose some of the excess liquid which will avoid the dish from getting soggy.
To prepare the tomato sauce the original recipe instructs you to chop some onions with garlic and cook them in a pan with some olive oil until soft. Because I’m a busy happy mom I tend to skip this part and just pour the tomato sauce into a pan, add a basil stock (which you can find in any supermarket) and I let it simmer slowly for 10 minutes. Then I add lots of fresh basil which will give the unique fresh taste of summer and let it simmer again for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
In an oven dish start pouring a small layer of tomato sauce, then cover it with a thin layer of grated Parmesan, spread some of the mozzarella and finally place a single layer of aubergines. Repeat these layers until you’ve used all the ingredients up, finishing with a little sauce and a good, very good sprinkling of Parmesan so once the dish is cooked the top will look crispy and golden.
Place the dish in the oven and bake it at 180 degrees for around 30 minutes or until you see the top of the dish golden and bubbly around the edges.
I would suggest that, once the dish is out of the oven, you leave it to cool down for around 10 minutes as this will make the whole dish settle a bit. If you use a particular watery tomatoes sauce or you notice that after 30 minutes the dish has still too much liquid salsa in it, then you can lower the oven temperature to around 140 degrees and leave the dish settle in the oven for a bit longer (10 minutes will do).
It will be so yummy, you will love it!! And your kids will love it too! And your husband will love it! And your friends will love it… do I need to say more?