Melanzane Parmigiana (Aubergine & Parmesan) is a truly classic Italian dish. As with most Italian food this is all about simple ingredients cooked well in the right combination. The result is a dish that is incredible light yet full of flavor. Ideally this is served as a starter or a side dish.
Melanzane Parmigiana Ingredients
2 aubergines (egg plants to our US friends)
3 cloves of garlic
2 tins of plum tomatoes
Small handful of fresh thyme
Small bowl of grated Parmesan cheese
Small handful of fresh basil
Salt & Pepper
1 fresh red chilli
Slice the aubergines about 7mm thick and grill them in a dry (no oil) griddle pan (a frying pan will do if you don’t have one) until they are lightly charred.
To make the tomato sauce chop the garlic and add to a pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Finely chop the onion and add to the pan then cook until the onions are soft. Next add the tomatoes and break them up in the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer the sauce on a medium heat so it reduces down and intensifies in flavour and season to taste. Though not entirely traditional I like to add a finely chopped chilli to give the sauce a little bit of a kick.
Once the sauce is ready spread a layer of the sauce into an ovenproof dish, followed by a layer of the aubergine slices and a sprinkled layer of grated Parmesan and a few fresh basil leaves. Continue adding layers in the same order until the dish is full, ending with a thicker layer of Parmesan on top.
Alternatively rather than cooking this in a large dish you can make up individual towers (using the same layers) an cook them on a baking tray if you want more of a fine dining rather than presentation.
Cook the dish at 200 degrees for about 25 minutes when the top should be golden brown. Serve while still hot with a sprig of fresh basil on top.