I’m not a huge veggie person and for me, a meal is not complete unless there’s some meat or fish in it. Which is why I was a bit reluctant to try this one out but the whole food romance I have with Italy made me try this out. And I’m glad I did.
Aubergine Parmigiana (Melanzane Parmigiana) is a classic northern Italian dish that is usually served up with roast meat, fish or pasta as the smoky flavour of the aubergines really go hand in hand with the smokey, charcoal-y-ness of the roast proteins. I changed the recipe a tiny bit to suit our palates. I didn’t think that all aubergine and tomatoes will sit well with us and I was right.
- Prep Time :15 minutes
- Cook Time :50 minutes
- Yield : 8 servings
- Aubergines, sliced - 500g
- Ripe tomatoes - 500g - skinned and chopped
- Garlic - 6 Cloves, crushed
- Big onions, chopped - 2
- Parmesan cheese - 300g
- Mozarella cheese, grated - 100g (Optional)
- Olive oil - For frying
- Whole meal multiseed bread - Few slices (my addition)
- Eggs - 4 (For a vegetarian option, omit these)
- Oregano - 1 tsp
- Basil leaves - 2-3
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Brush a little olive oil on both sides of the aubergine slices and gently grill them in a skillet. Keep aside.
- In a pan, heat some olive oil. Add to this the garlic and saute. Once lightly browned, add the onion and sautee till translucent. Add oregano, salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the tomatoes. Stir everything together and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the basil leaves. This mixture can be pureed or left chunky as it is as per preference. (I left it chunky cz I couldn't be bothered.)
- In an ovenproof earthenware dish (or a pyrex) spread a layer of the tomato mixture followed by a layer of the grilled aubergines. Scatter a generous amount of Parmesan on top. Lay down the slices of bread on top of this. Repeat the layers until you run out of ingredients finishing with a layer of aubergines on top.
- Pour over this the beaten eggs making sure that the whole surface of the layers are covered. Sprinkle some Parmesan over this and on top of that, sprinkle the grated mozzarella.
- Bake for about 45 minutes on moderate heat until golden and crisp. Serve warm with roasted meat, fish or spaghetti.
Dig in and you will find a veggie lover’s paradise. The aubergines are smoky and slightly charred from the grill while the sweetness of the tomatoes frilled with the caramelized onion and the pungent garlic envelop it in a lusty embrace. The oregano perfumes the dish, filling it with an energetic zest that bring out the true beauty of the simple aubergine and the tomatoes, bringing to the mind the picturesque Italian countryside. The egg binds it all in perfectly decadent unison while together with the Parmesan and the mozzarella, it gives a richness to the dish and texture that gives your teeth something to voluptuously sink into. It’s all so intense, one flavour overtaking the other, wrestling one down while another overwhelms them all. This is definitely something that your Italian nonna would make and fuss over you while you eat.
The bread (my addition) curbs down this intensity. Our Sri Lankan palates are not yet ready for the vibrant passions of these Italian love affairs.
Serve it up with spaghetti, add some roast meats into the equation. You would have gotten yourself a feast fit for a king!
- For the original recipe, omit the bread layer.
- If you are omitting the eggs and going for a veggie option, dissolve 3tblsps cornflour in 1 cup milk and pour this over the layers. The purpose is for the layers to stick together without being a mess.
- To skin the tomatoes – Prick the tomatoes and toss them in a pan of boiling water for 40 seconds. Remove from the hot water and into a bowl of cold water for 30 seconds. The flesh should slip off easily.