How can you resist?
Eggplant parmigiana is the dish to make for people who claim not to like eggplants. Soft, unctuous, bursting with classic Italian flavours, it is the kind of dish I like to make when I want something rich and comforting and don’t mind giving meat a miss.
Something like a vegetarian lasagne, eggplant parmigiana, along with my tomato pasta, makes the cold of winter seem very far away.
Pizza may be my perfect meal but even I have to admit there is something undeniably comforting and special about eating a steaming, heaping plate or bowl of rustic Italian fare. Along with a glass of red wine and a simple green salad, eggplant parmigiana makes an impressive meal when entertaining too and like my tomato pasta bake, can be prepared in advance and eaten cold.
For an Italian feast for kings and queens, kick things off with antipasto, follow with this eggplant parmigiana (sure to make grown men cry) and top the evening off with a classic panna cotta. Your friends will sing your praises and you’ll be pretty pleased with yourself too!
Ingredients –serves 6
- 3 large aubergines
- 1 onion – finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic – finely sliced
- 1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 x 400g tins good-quality plum tomatoes
- A splash of wine vinegar
- 1 cup fresh basil
- 4 large handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup approx dried bread crumbs
- Olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- fresh oregano, leaves chopped (optional)
You’ll need a 25cm x 12-15cm casserole or earthenware dish for this eggplant parmigiana recipe.
Heat some olive oil in a saucepan and fry the onions, garlic and dried oregano on a low-medium heat. Put the onions in first for a few minutes before adding the garlic and oregano. Cook for ten minutes, stirring all the while and making sure it doesn’t colour too much. Add the tomatoes and break them up in the saucepan using a wooden spoon to create a sauce and simmer for 15 minutes.
De-stalk, wash and cut the eggplants lengthways into 1cm slices. Grill the eggplant so each side gets some nice colour. Do this in batches if needed be and set aside.
Season your tomato sauce with salt, pepper, basil and a little splash of wine vinegar – tasting all the time to get it right. Stir in the fresh basil. Preheat your oven to 190C.
Take your casserole dish and spread a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom, followed by a scattering of parmesan over this and lay eggplant slices on top. Continue in this way, so you use up all your ingredients until you get to the top of the dish. For the lid, sprinkle breadcrumbs, some more parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil on top. Bake for around 30 minutes or until bubbling and golden.