Melanzane alla Parmigiana
Photo: Barbara Toselli
This is a delicious classic which never fails. It is made with deep fried aubergines and I suggest you stick to this as it tastes far better. Make it seldom but do it right.
Serves: 6 as starter, 4 as a main course
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
500-600g tomato passata
7-8 leaves fresh basil
1l olive/sunflower oil for frying
3-4 medium aubergines (1.2 kg)
200g mozzarella cheese, finely diced – ideally the hard one for cooking/pizza
50g parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
For the tomato sauce. Warm the extra virgin olive oil and garlic in a frying pan over medium heat.
After a minute add the passata and season. Cook for 25-30 minutes, partially covered and stirring occasionally. Tear in the basil and stir.
Meanwhile, rinse and the aubergines and cut off their ends. Cut into round slices, 1 cm thick.
To fry, ideally use a deep fryer, filled with the olive/sunflower oil and set to 180°C. If you do not have a deep fat fryer, heat the oil in a large deep frying pan or a shallow saucepan.
Once the oil is hot fry a few slices in a single layer for a couple of minutes on each side until golden. Drain with a metal slotted spoon and place on paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the aubergines.
Take a 25x30 cm baking dish and spread a thin layer of tomato sauce at the bottom, then a layer of aubergines, a teaspoon of tomato sauce on each aubergine slice, almost half of the mozzarella and the parmesan.
Do not put too much tomato sauce on top of the aubergines, or it will overpower the flavor of the aubergines and make them soggy.
Top with another layer of aubergines and repeat until you create three layers of aubergines, tomato sauce and cheese. The last layer should have more tomato sauce and parmesan and only a little mozzarella.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until just golden with no liquid.
Leave to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. If too greasy, scoop up some of the oil before serving.
Serve hot with bread.