This started out as an attempt (with no prior knowledge) at a Aubergine Parmigiano, basically because I figured it would be a good fancy ratatouille. Which is what my approach ended up being - make a ratatouille like usual but construct it in layers and add some mozzarella and parmesan along the way!
Either way, I knew it was going to be a winner (spoiler alert: it’s awesome), because for me there are few better combinations than tomato, aubergine and olive oil cooked slowly. It has a depth of richness and sweetness like not much else.
This doesn’t take much more effort than my usual ratatouille, as I prefer to pre-cook a few of those ingredients individually to enhance the flavour (but it can also be sped up by just chucking everything in a pot). There are three basic steps: Start the tomato sauce, pre-cook the aubergine and then bake altogether once constructed.
The tomato sauce is a fairly staple in my kitchen, and if you have a preferred sauce recipe then go for that, but all it entails is the usual softening and sweating of onions up front, before adding garlic/oregano/tomato puree and cooking for a minute before adding the tomatoes. Ordinarily, if I was going to use the sauce on pasta or pizza then I’d usually cook this down for an hour or so to let the natural sweetness of the tomatoes come through, but this is just the pre-cook step so a lot of that magic is going to happen in the final baking step (you can’t skip the initial onion cooking step though, that needs the time upfront, only 10 minutes or so though).
I like to pre-cook the aubergines to give them a chance to char a little, which you can’t get in a crowded pan (and especially mixed with a sauce). I usually cook my aubergine slices on the BBQ above a direct heat to get a nice finish on them, but this could just as easily be done in a frying pan or grill (a griddle pan will also give you the nice grill line aesthetic if thats something you really want!).
- 4-6 people
- 15 minutes
- 2 hours
- 2 medium large aubergines (eggplant)
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 x 400 gram tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- Mozzarella - I usually use grated for ease, but fresh would work even better
- Parmesan cheese for topping
- Olive oil
- Cut the aubergine into slices length ways and salt them
- Gently saute (fry) the onion in some olive oil until softened and starting to brown, about 10 minutes
- Once the onions are done, add the garlic, oregano and tomato puree. Stir through and cook for about a further 1 minute
- Add the chopped tomatoes and stir through. Continue to cook on the hob, stirring occasionally whilst you cook the aubergines
- The salt will have started to draw out some moisture from the aubergine (you will probably see moisture on top of the slices), rinse the moisture and excess salt of under cold water and pat dry with kitchen towel
- Rub the aubergine slices with olive oil and cook them on a hot grill (I use direct heat on a BBQ, but a pre-heated griddle pan will work as well). Aubergines will absorb a lot of oil, so continue to brush them with olive oil whilst they cook. Once they have browned a little, remove them to a plate. You will probably need to cook these slices in batches.
- Once the aubergines are all cooked, construct the dish - layer sauce, aubergines and then a layer of mozzarella and parmesan and repeat until finished
- Top with mozzarella and then a sprinkle of parmesan and bake in the oven for about 45 - 50 minutes at 180C
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