Aubergine and Parmesan and tomato and basil, if you cook it well enough it’s something quite magical
Um diddle-iddle-iddle, um diddle aye…
‘What has Mary Poppins got to with it?’ I hear you ask. I don’t know. What I do know is that the parmigiana is DIVINE.
I have tried many different versions of this dish, all with their merits, but none perfect; this recipe is something of a gallimaufry of all of them. And to me, this is perfection.
INGREDIENTS (Serves 4-6 depending on appetite/greed):
2 large or 3 medium aubergines
Salt and pepper
Flour to dust
2 fat cloves of garlic, chopped
1 chilli, diced (de-seeded if you prefer)
1 tbsp tomato purée
Glass of red wine
Drizzle balsamic vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
First to the aubergines: cut them into slices around 1cm thick, then submerge them in cold water for one minute.
Crack the eggs into a large bowl and season.
Drain and dry the aubergine slices; dust them with flour; dunk them in the seasoned egg.
Heat some olive oil in a wide frying pan, enough to lightly cover the base.
Batch fry the eggy aubergine slices; leave the fried slices to drain on some kitchen paper.
Preheat your oven to gas 6 / 200 C.
Then make the tomato sauce by frying together the garlic and chilli, before adding the tomato purée and cooking out for a couple of minutes. Add the wine, and allow to reduce for a couple of minutes. Add the passata, balsamic, caster sugar, and basil and leave to cook until you are happy with the sauce.
Now it is a building job. Spread a couple of tablespoons of your tomato sauce across the bottom of your chosen dish (I use a deep, roughly 30cm by 20cm Pyrex roasting dish), then cover the sauce with 4 or 5 slices of aubergine; sprinkle a few leaves of basil, then liberally cover with grated ‘parmesan’. Repeat this process (sauce, aubergines, basil and sauce) until you reach the top of your dish. Finish with a layer of tomato sauce, then cheese.
Place your assembled dish in the pre-heated oven, and cook for 20 minutes or so, until the dish is bubbling hot and the cheese is melted gold.
Serve with bread for mopping, and salad for your conscience.
All (well, most: the aubergines, the eggs, the garlic, the chilli, and the basil) of the ingredients I used to make my parmigiana were bought at the Marylebone Farmer’s Market, where I spent my Sunday squealing with joy. So was this amazing salad:
If you are in London you should check out the market out , even if just to enjoy the posh clientele and the shop over the road which has a remarkable cheese room.