Tuesday, 7 May 2013


Loving aubergine's whilst your husband despises the nightshade makes for some difficult compromises at the dinner table. That's usually Mr A having to concede and eat an eggplant dinner or else go hungry. Mean. I know. 
But I really do love them and am not quite willing to give them up. Perhaps I'm hoping after enough attempts in incorporating the vegetable into a variety of dishes he'll eventually change his mind on the matter and decide aubergines are in fact delicious. Which they are !

One of my favourite dishes made from this versatile vegetable is the famous Italian creation, Melanzane Parmigiana. Layers of fried egg plant, sugo (home made tomato sauce,) and parmesan topped with a herbed bread crumb. It really is one of my most favourite dishes. Full stop. I think Mr A can even stomach this one without complaining too much. 

Aubergine Parmigiana
This is a lighter version than some recipes you might find which love to use mozzarella cheese too. I don't find it necessary and even find it can make the dish too greasy as the aubergines are already oily from frying. You could make an even more health conscious version and grill the aubergine slices instead. The char from grilling will contribute to the flavour beautifully. 
serves 4

4 small-medium eggplants  - sliced into rounds +-3mm thick
vegetable oil for frying

2 garlic cloves - peeled & sliced
1 x 400g tin whole peel tomatoes / cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato passata
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram  / oregano leaves - chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
scant teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 cup freshbread crumbs
1 teaspoon fresh marjoram  / oregano leaves - chopped fine
1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 cup grated parmesan  -or more if desired
salt & pepper

Set the oven to 180degC.

Start by making the tomato sauce. Place a small amount of vegetable oil in a pot over a medium heat and fry the garlic. When starting to smell delicious and before it starts to colour add in the tomatoes, passata, sugar and marjoram. Season with salt & pepper and allow to come to the boil. Place a lid on, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Stir now & again to prevent any sticking and burning. In the mean time fry the aubergine discs in batches on both sides until golden . Remove the cooked aubergine from the frying pan and place on some paper towel to allow for the surplus oil to be absorbed up. When the sauce has cooked enough, remove from the heat, stir in the red wine vinegar and check if it requires more seasoning.

To make the crumb topping mix together the bread crumbs, second portion of finely chopped marjoram, the olive oil and a tablespoon of the grated parmesan. Mix to form a slightly damp / oil covered crumb. Season with salt & pepper.

To assemble : first layer in half of the tomato sauce at the bottom of an oven proof dish. Now layer over  enough of the aubergine to cover the tomato sauce - using up roughly half of the aubergines. Overlapping slightly if necessary. Now sprinkle over the 3/4 cup ( minus the tablespoon taken for the crumb mix.) Repeat once more with the remaining tomato sauce and remaining aubergine. Evenly sprinkle the top layer of aubergines with the crumb mix and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the sauce has reduced, the aubergines are tender and the crumb as turned a dark golden.

Remove from the oven and serve warm with fresh baguette and a rocket salad. A good glass of rose' or red won't go amiss either.

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