Friday, 27 March 2009

Eggplant Parmisan or Parmigiana di Melanzane

No time to write a post today, so I'll publish another recipe. Not my own either, but I have made it twice already and it is realy, realy good. A bit of trouble to make but worth the while over and over. Even the most hardened meat eaters will love this dish. Here goes. Parmigiana di melanzane (Eggplant Parmisan in the USA) is a layered, baked dish of aubergines, rich tomato sauce, parmesan and mozzarella. It's a wonderfully savoury meal to brighten up an autumn evening. This tomato sauce, simmered for ages until thick and unctuous, is unbelievably good - it's also very simple, containing very few ingredients. It freezes well, so if you can face seeding and peeling even more tomatoes, make some extra and save. To serve four with some left over for lunch you'll need: 2kg very ripe tomatoes 4 medium aubergines 3 large onions 4 cloves of garlic 1 handful fresh basil 1 handful fresh oregano 1 mild red chilli 1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar 2 teaspoons sugar 1 large knob butter, plus extra to taste 250 g mozzarella Salt and pepper Grated parmesan (fresh not powdered) Olive oil to fry Begin by peeling and seeding the tomatoes. (Cut a shallow cross at the bottom of the tomatoes and pour over boiling water. Fish the tomatoes straight out of the water, which will have loosened their skin, and peel it off. Cut open and discard the seeds.) Cut into small dice. Dice the onions and chop the garlic finely, and fry in a large knob of butter until translucent and fragrant. Add the tomatoes and finely chopped chilli to the saucepan and stir to combine everything. Bring to a very low simmer, and reduce (this will take more than an hour) to half its original volume or a little less. Bring the vinegar and sugar to the boil in a small pan and stir it into the sauce. Add the oregano and season with salt and pepper. Taste to check whether you need more salt or sugar. Add another knob of butter for a more mellow flavour if you like. Set the finished sauce aside. While the sauce is reducing, prepare the aubergine. Slice it into rounds about 1 cm thick (salt the aubergines on both sides. Leave for 30 minutes and wipe with a dry cloth/kitchen towel) and fry each round in hot olive oil (the aubergine slices are like little sponges, so you'll need plenty), until brown on each side. Drain on kitchen paper and season with salt and pepper. (careful with salt now) Set out a layer of aubergine slices in the bottom of a baking dish. Place some basil leaves on top. Pour over a layer of sauce, layer over some mozzarella, then more aubergine, more basil, more sauce and so on. When you've used everything up, sprinkle over the parmesan and bake for 45 minutes at 180° C, until brown on top. Scatter over some fresh basil. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the rich juices.

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