I had such a great harvest of eggplants last summer, so have been trying all sorts of different recipes to use them. This classic northern Italian Eggplant Parmigiana Recipe is one of my favourites. You can serve it with a salad as a vegetarian main dish or use it as a side vegetable dish with meats. I baked and froze slices of eggplant to use to make this recipe over the winter months.
You can use courgettes or fennel instead of the eggplants and top with mozzarella cheese if you prefer.
3 large eggplants
2 spring onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tsp dried oregano
2x 400g tinned plum tomatoes (or 1kg fresh tomatoes)
freshly ground black pepper
1 large handful fresh basil
3 large handfuls grated Parmesan cheese
2 handfuls dried breadcrumbs
Fresh oregano, chopped
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Add the spring onion, garlic and dried oregano and cook for 10 minutes, until the onion is soft.
Add the tomato flesh* or tinned tomatoes to the onion, garlic and oregano. Give the mixture a good stir, then put a lid on the pan and simmer slowly for 15 minutes.
*If using fresh tomatoes, drop them into a large pan of boiling water for about 30 seconds until the skins split. Plunge into cold water, then remove the skins and seeds, and chop the flesh.
Slice the eggplant into 1cm thick slices.
Heat a griddle pan (or barbecue) and get it really hot.
Grill the eggplant on both sides until lightly charred.
As each batch is finished, remove the slices to a tray while you grill the rest.
When the tomato sauce is reduced and sweet, season with salt, pepper and a dash of wine vinegar, and add the basil.
You can leave the sauce chunky or purée it if you like it smoother.
Grease a baking dish, and spread a thin layer of tomato sauce over the bottom. Scatter grated parmesan over the tomato, followed by a layer of eggplant slices.
Repeat these layers until you’ve used up all the ingredients, finishing with tomato sauce and another good sprinkling of Parmesan.
Toss the breadcrumbs in a tbsp olive oil with freshly chopped oregano and sprinkle on top of the Parmesan.
Place the dish in the oven and bake at 180C for half an hour until golden, crisp and bubbly.