Until fairly recently, I wasn’t a huge fan of aubergine (or eggplant, if you prefer). But we had a delicious meal on honeymoon that changed my idea about it – one day I’m going to try to recreate it! Helen came to stay with us last weekend and I wanted to try out a new veggie recipe for her, and I chose this one from ‘The Food of the Mediterranean’ by Murdoch Books. It does involve frying the aubergine in batches, so I’m going to give a little warning: if, like us, you don’t have an extractor fan in your kitchen, this will probably stink out your house! It is, however, a really delicious recipe so it was worth it! The original recipe given here serves 8 people – I made it with 3 aubergines and the same amounts for the rest of the ingredients for 3 people, and that seemed to work well. The photo here doesn’t do it justice – sorry for the blurryness, I was hungry when I took it! 🙂
1.5kg (3lb 5oz) aubergines (eggplants)
330ml (1 and 1/3 cups) olive oil
500ml (2 cups) passata
2 tablespoons roughly torn fresh basil leaves
250g (1 and 2/3 cups) grated mozzarella cheese
100g (1 cup) grated parmesan cheese
1. Thinly slice the aubergines lengthways. Layer the slices in a large colander, sprinkling salt between each layer, and then leave for 1 hour to extract the bitter juices. (I wasn’t sure if this was worth the effort, but it really was!)
2. Rinse and pat the slices dry on both sides with kitchen paper. Coat the aubergine slices lightly with flour.
3. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4, and grease a suitable sized dish (for the amount that you are making). Then heat some of the oil in a large frying pan, and fry the aubergine in small batches until golden on both sides (the original recipe says to add all of the oil, but I found it easier to add a little at a time). Drain well on kitchen paper as you remove each batch from the pan.
4. Make a slightly overlapping layer of aubergine slices over the base of the dish, and season with pepper. Spoon 4 tablespoons of passata over the aubergine, and then scatter a few pieces of basil on top. Sprinkle with some mozzarella and then some parmesan. Repeat this layering until you have used up all of your ingredients.
5. Bake for 30 minutes and serve with some crusty bread. The original recipe actually says to let it cool for 30 minutes before serving, but we like food super hot in our house! 🙂