BIG TONI’S ITALIAN KITCHEN

Melanzane alla Parmigiana - Aubergine parmigiana    Jan 2018

At this time of year Dec/ Jan the weather is dark and a little depressing. I sometimes feel like a taste of summer days, this is when I like to cook dishes like Aubergine parmigiana. The layers of aubergine, mozzarella, and tomato give a wonderful feeling of wellbeing, like spring is just around the corner.

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I sometimes make this dish by layering the aubergine disks in little stacks of 4 or 5 layers, this makes attractive individual portions of the dish, which is great for a dinner party.

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This dish is also versatile; you can serve this dish as a side dish to meat or fish, a first course or a light lunch with some fresh bread.

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It’s good direct from the oven but even better left to cool and re-heated

This makes it a great dish to make a day in advance.

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Melanzane alla Parmigiana - Aubergine parmigiana

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For 8 people you will need

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4 aubergines

oil for frying

500 ml of tomato purée

Extra virgin olive oil

1 clove of garlic

basil leaves

150 g mozzarella, finely chopped

3 eggs, beaten

100 g of grated Parmesan cheese

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How to make it

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Cut the aubergine into 5 mm thick slices.

Arrange the slices in a colander with a sprinkle of salt in between the layers, place a plate on top of the aubergines then a weight on the plate. Leave the aubergines on the sink for about 30 minutes, so they loose some liquid and with the liquid any bitterness.

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After this time, rinse all your slices under running water and arrange them on a kitchen towel. Pat them dry.

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Meanwhile heat a griddle pan

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Brush each slice of aubergine with olive oil and place on the hot griddle pan until they have attractive brown lines, rotate the slices in the pan to create crosshatch lines on the aubergine then turn them over and repeat.

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Do this to all the slices and place on kitchen paper to cool.

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I find cooking the aubergine this way cuts down on the oil they absorb and intensifies the flavour of the aubergine. It also looks attractive.

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Lightly Season the aubergines 

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Now make the tomato sauce. 

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Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan with a clove of garlic. When the garlic turns golden pour in the passata, wash out the passata jar with a cup of water or white wine and add to the pan. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook the tomato for about 20 minutes, until the tomato separates from the oil.

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Now to make the melanzane alla parmigiana. 

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On the bottom of a baking dish (about 30 x 20 cm) spread a few tablespoons of the tomato sauce.

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Arrange a layer of the aubergines, pour over a part of the beaten eggs, and sprinkle with some mozzarella and a generous layer of grated Parmigiano. 

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Spread the tomato sauce on top and keep making layers, until you run out of ingredients. You should be able to make four layers. Top with tomato sauce, a few pieces of mozzarella and a lot of Parmigiano.

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Bake in the preheated oven to 180°C for about 35 minutes, until golden brown on the top.

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Serve the parmigiana warm or, even better, let it cool down completely and warm it again in the evening or the next day, it will be even tastier.

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