Adding elegance to a classic.
In England we can generally expect our summer to consist of one week of heat in May where our sun burn lasts longer than the sun itself. This year however we have been well and truly spoilt by a four month heatwave; beautiful lustrous days followed by balmy nights sipping Aperol spritz and eating endless caprese salads. Sadly there has finally been a break in the weather and the classic English wind and rain has returned.
I am not entirely upset by this however as with such grotty weather comes the cravings for warming cheesy comfort foods – enter aubergine parmigiana. Traditionally made by layering up pan fried aubergine with tomato sauce and mozzarella, I have altered the method to create a slightly more refined version of the dish. The aubergine is roasted low and slow to break down the fibers and produce a creamy and tender texture, toss this in a rich tomato sauce and then fill it back into the aubergine skin. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and cheese and dig in.
Serves 1 – 2 (you could serve one half or one whole aubergine depending on hunger levels)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
- 1 aubergine
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- sea salt
- black pepper
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 400 g tinned tomatoes
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp sugar
- 100 g mozzarella
- 50 g dried breadcrumbs
- basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 150 degrees (fan)/ 170 degrees in a standard electric oven.
- Slice the aubergine in half length ways and score a criss cross design into the flesh (see the above photo). Drizzle 2 tbsp of the olive oil over the flesh of the aubergine. Sprinkle generously with sea salt and roast in the oven for 40 minutes or until soft.
- Meanwhile heat the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil in a pan over a medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and fry for 5 minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes and then fill the tin with water and add to the pan as well. Add the tomato puree, thyme, oregano, bay leaf and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I like to use a lot of salt to richen the flavour of the tomatoes. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes until the sauce is thick.
- Remove the aubergine from the oven once the flesh has softened. Turn the grill on to 240 degrees.
- Use a spoon or sharp knife to remove the soft flesh from the aubergine. Take care not to pierce the skin however as this is used as the “dish”. Stir the aubergine flesh into the tomato sauce and then carefully spoon it into the aubergine skin. Top with torn mozarella and bread crumbs. Place under the grill for 3 – 4 minutes.
- Remove from the grill and sprinkle over a few basil leaves. Enjoy!
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