Delicious Baked Charred Aubergine Layered with Tomato Sauce & Cheese
This is one of the first dishes that made me fall in love with aubergines, which up until I had tried this I always thought they were a bit slimy & bitter. They are now one of my favourite vegetables so even if you are not a fan of aubergines don’t rule this one out straight away and give it a try to see if it will convert you too.
With its slow cooked tomato based sauce and layers of cheese and fresh herbs it really is a comforting dish that can be eaten on its own or as a side dish, I really love it with a selection of cold cured meats and some olives. The slow cooking of the sauce helps all of the flavours really fuse together so do take it slow for this one and it tastes even better the day after so it you can plan ahead to make it in advance.
I used parmesan for the final topping for this to keep it as aubergine parmigiana but you can easily swap this for a hard fat cheese if vegetarian and I am pretty confident that mozzarella is easy to get as a vegetarian. I found out today that you will never be able to get a vegetarian parmesan as it is a protected ingredient and must come from a specific region in Italy and must always use animal rennet to make it. Apologies to any vegetarians that didn’t know this & if you are strict vege then best swap to a hard fat cheese.
So here is the recipe for one of the ultimate comfort food recipes I make.
– 1 Aubergine (Cut into just under 1cm rounds)
– 1 Onion (Finely Diced)
– 2 Cloves Garlic (Peeled)
– 2 Large Tomatoes + Handful of Small, diced (I was using up left overs, you could just use 3 tomatoes)
– 1 Stalk Celery (Diced Small)
– 1/2 Carrot (Diced Small)
– 2 Stalks of Basil (Remove leaves & retain to the side. Chop the stalk)
– 2 Stalks Rosemary (Remove leaves & retain to the side)
– 4 Stalks Thyme (Remove leaves & retain to the side)
– 4 Sage Leaves
– Passata (Around 100ml)
– Glass of Red Wine
– 1 Tbsp Tomato Puree
– 1 round of Mozzarella
– Parmesan, to top
1. Start with infusing around 2-3 tbsp of oil over a low heat with the whole garlic cloves, the herb stalks and the sage leaves. I left this slowely cooking for around 10-15 minutes.
2. Remove all of the particulates with a slotted spoon. Dispose of the herbs but retain the garlic, it should be quite soft now with a light colouring on the outer.
3. Add the diced onion & celery to the infused oil and gently cook over a low heat for about 15 minutes. You want the vegetables to soften but you don’t want to add too much colour.
4. Add the diced carrots and cook for 5 minutes before adding the tomato puree and cooking out for a couple of minutes.
5. Chop the garlic that you retained from earlier on and add it, chopped tomatoes and the herb leaves to the pan and gently cook for about 10 minutes.
6. Once the tomatoes have cooked down add the tomato passata and a splash of water and using a stick blender blitz the sauce to an almost smooth consistency. If it is really thick then add a little more water and leave cooking over a low heat whilst you cook your aubergine rounds.
7. In batches take your aubergine rounds, rub a little oil on both of the cut sides and cook over a medium – high heat until charred. If you have a chargrill pan then definitely use it to give you intense smokey charred bits. You want highlights of colour on each side.
8. Arrange half the charred aubergine in 1 layer at bottom of oven proof dish
9. Next layer half of the sauce, some fresh basil leaves and half the mozzarella. You could also put some parmesan here if you like lots cheese and then repeat the layers again.
10. Grate over parmesan (or hard fat cheese) and oven cook for 25-30 mins until nice and golden.
Aubergine parmigiana is one of my favourite dishes, totally comforting, loads of flavour and loads of cheese.
Hope you love it as much as I do. Remember to leave a comment & share the recipe if you love it too.