Baked aubergine layered with tomato, basil & smoked mozzarella

Baked aubergine layered with tomato, basil & smoked mozzarella

Parmigiana di melanzane

By
From
The Amalfi Coast
Serves
8
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

The origin of Aubergine Parmigiana is argued about constantly by the regions of Sicily, Campania and Emilia-Romagna. It probably derived from Sicily, but don’t tell the other regions! In this recipe, thin layers of aubergine (eggplant) are pressed together in a smooth tomato sauce. At Villa Cimbrone, a world-famous hotel in Ravello, it is served as individual domes with spots of bright green pesto around the tomato sauce. Pesto isn’t essential but it does look prett€y if presentation is key.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
200-300ml sunflower oil, (add more if necessary)
4 aubergines, cut into 1 cm thick slices lengthways
2 x 125g balls buffalo mozzarella
1 quantity Winter tomato sauce, (made with 2
25g parmesan, finely grated
25g smoked provola or smoked cheddar, finely grated
20 basil leaves for each mould, plus 1 for each dome
crusty bread, to serve

Method

  1. If you have time, salt the aubergines first to extract the water by sprinkling the slices with a li€ttle salt and draining them in a colander for 1 hour. It’s a process well worth doing to prevent the finished dish becoming watery. If you don’t have time to do this just use more kitchen paper to soak up the oil and juices after frying.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Fry the aubergines in batches on both sides until golden. Remove from the pan and drain on layers of kitchen paper. (If you have time you can leave them in a colander to drain overnight without the paper.) Cut or tear the mozzarella into pieces and drain in a sieve for a couple of hours or overnight in the fridge.
  3. Make the tomato sauce and purée with a hand-held blender or food processor until smooth. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  4. If using individual moulds

    You’ll need 8 semi-spherical moulds, 8 cm wide and 4 cm deep. Line the moulds with aubergine slices, allowing the ends to flop over the sides as you will need to fold them over (there will be leftover slices that can be cut up and used for the layers inside the moulds). Add a spoonful of tomato sauce to each mould, then top with layers of mozzarella, Parmesan, smoked cheese, basil leaves and aubergine cut to fit. Make sure you slightly overfill the moulds as they will sink during cooking. Finish by folding over the aubergine slices. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until darkened and bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5–10 minutes.
  5. Carefully invert the moulds onto a baking tray and leave for a few minutes while you heat up the remaining tomato sauce. Spoon a circle of sauce in the centre of each warmed plate. Using a fish slice, carefully place the domes on top of the sauce. Top with a liƒttle more tomato sauce and a basil leaf. Serve immediately with bread to mop up the sauce.
  6. If using a lasagne dish

    Pour one-third of the tomato sauce into a medium lasagne dish and lay over one-third of the aubergine slices. Top with one-third of the mozzarella, Parmesan, smoked cheese and basil leaves. Repeat twice more, finishing with a layer of tomato sauce (or the cheese will burn). Bake in the oven for 45–60 minutes.‰

A note on oven temperatures:

  • It has been assumed throughout that a fan-forced oven is being used. Please adjust your temperatures to 20°C higher if you are using a conventional oven.
Tags:
The AmalfiCoast
Giancarlo
Katie
Caldesi
Amalfi
Italy
Italian
Mediterranean
European
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