Melanzane Alla Parmigiana

I have made the rich tomato and aubergine dish Melanzane many times over the years, following several different recipes. I found this one in The Times Magazine and it appealed to me simply because it looked so very easy. Normally I spend an age panfrying the aubergine before we assemble the layers, so I wanted to find out if a relatively fuss free version could compete with other recipes.

INGREDIENTS

1 large aubergine
350g mozzarella
40g Parmigiana Reggiano (or Grana Padano if you accidentally pick it up when you go shopping)
500g tomato passata
A large handful of fresh basil leaves

METHOD

Heat the oven to 190°C (non-fan 210°C).

Cut the aubergine lengthways into slices around 1cm thick.

Throw the slices into an ovenproof dish and bake for fifteen – twenty minutes, until the aubergine feels tender and spongy to the touch and is still light coloured. (You can use the same dish that you will bake the parmigiana in).

Take the dish out of the oven and set the aubergine aside.

Cover the bottom of the dish with half of the tomato passata. Roughly tear a few basil leaves and sprinkle over the tomato layer and then drizzle 1tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Arrange half of the aubergine slices over the tomato layer so they sit snugly in the dish and then top with half of the mozarella. Drizzle with 1tbsp olive oil and some more salt and pepper.

Then, repeat the layers, by adding the rest of the tomato passata and torn basil, the remaining slices of aubergine and mozzarella and some more olive oil and seasoning.

Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan.

Then bake in the oven for around thirty to forty minutes. You will see the cheesy topping bubbling away so decide how golden brown you like it. I think I left mine in a little too long because I was distracted by an episode of Vera.

Despite the recipe being so simple I still left it in the oven too long. How did this version of Melanzane compared with other recipes that involve spending more time to prepare the aubergine slices? Honestly, I found the aubergine a little dry compared to some of the other recipes I have used. This recipe is great if you want fuss free and less washing up. You cannot really go wrong with delicious bubbly cheese and rich passata. The only difference was the texture of the aubergine being rather unpleasant because it had been prepared dry.

That’s my verdict – but I am glad I tried the recipe and discovered for myself that the recipes I already use are worth the extra effort.

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