Baked aubergine with tomato sauce & mozzarella

Baked aubergine with tomato sauce & mozzarella

By
From
Sicily
Serves
8

Pat Frustaci’s grandmother Rosina Alongi was born in Sicily and emigrated to the US in the early 1900s. She cooked every day, even when she turned 101. According to her, the true Italian dish was aubergine (eggplant) parmigiana. She liked to claim that Sicilians created the dish because of the abundance of aubergines grown in the region, but offered the possibility that it was invented in Parma, Italy, where the cheese originated. Pat’s guess is that even today the two regions are probably still arguing over the ownership of this fabulous dish.

This is Giancarlo’s version, which we sell in our restaurant Caffè Caldesi. We don’t fry the aubergines or coat them in breadcrumbs as we find our customers prefer the lighter version (and this way the recipe is gluten-free). However, you will see variations on a theme throughout Sicily: some recipes use a batter or breadcrumbs, and others simply fry the aubergines after a light dusting in flour. There is no need to salt the long purple variety as any bitterness was bred out of them years ago.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
6 aubergines, topped and tailed and cut lengthways into 1 cm thick, even slices
100ml extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
salt
freshly ground black pepper
see method for ingredients, blended until smooth
250g cow’s milk mozzarella, drained and cut into 5 mm cubes
100g parmesan, finely grated
20 basil leaves

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Brush the aubergine slices with the olive oil and season lightly and evenly on both sides. Lay them on the baking tray and roast in the oven for 12–15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 180°C.
  2. Pour one-quarter of the tomato sauce into an ovenproof dish measuring approximately 25 x 25 cm and lay over one-quarter of the aubergine slices. Top with a quarter of the mozzarella, Parmesan and basil leaves. Repeat three times more, finishing with a layer of the two cheeses. Bake in the oven for 45–60 minutes.
Tags:
Italy
Italian
Sicily
Sicilian
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