Eggplant, tomato, basil and cheese; what could possible go wrong! This recipe is a little bit of Jamie Oliver, a little bit of me and a whole lot of yumminess!
It’s hearty, full of flavour & it could even be healthy, if you can overlook a little cheese & a generous amount of olive oil:)
I tend not to use a lot of parmesan in this dish. Or to be really honest with you, most of the time I don’t use Parmesan at all. Instead, I often chose an old, Dutch cheese, such as Gouda. More than anything, I feel this lovely Italian Eggplant dish shouldn’t be smothered in cheese to begin with. I’ve had Melanzane alla Parmigiana a number of times in Italian restaurants; it was always nice, rich & flavoursome. But it was also always quite salty & heavy, because of the massive amounts of cheese that covered the eggplants. And even though I’m definitely a cheese lover, I do feel it’s a pity if the salty taste of cheese predominates the whole dish.
Autumn is here & even though this dish, with its basil and tomatoes, has a feeling of summer about it, I find it is still perfect for these colder & shortening days. It fills the house with delicious smells & it warms heart and mind each and every time.
Have fun making this lovely Melanzane alla Jamie alla Naomi alla Italy and I’ll see you again soon.
Melanzane alla Parmigiana
– 2 large eggplants, sliced in 1 cm thick slices.
– Good quality olive oil.
– Salt & pepper, to taste.
– 1 large onion, peeled & finely chopped.
– 2 garlic cloves, peeled & finely grated.
– 3 teaspoons dried oregano.
– 1 tin plum tomatoes (400 g).
– 1 cup Passata di Pomodoro (thick tomato sauce).
– ½ tablespoon white wine vinegar.
– 1 teaspoon brown sugar.
– ± 4 large hands of fresh basil.
– ± 1 ½ full cup of breadcrumbs.
– 2 large hands of freshly grated parmesan*.
– Place the sliced eggplants on a large cutting board. Using a silicon brush, brush the eggplants with some olive oil and sprinkle with some salt.
– Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F) and heat multi grill/ griddle pan. Make sure the grill is really hot, before you start grilling.
– Start grilling the eggplants and put them aside when done.
– In the meantime, heat a large pan on medium heat and add about 2 tbsp. of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add your onions and fry them for about 10 mins, until they are soft and lightly browned.
– Now add the garlic and 2 tsp. of dried oregano. Fry the mixture for about 2 minutes, while stirring well.
– Now add the plum tomatoes, the Passata de Pomodoro, the white wine vinegar and the brown sugar. When using whole plum tomatoes, use your spatula to break the plum tomatoes into chunky bits. To make life easier, you could also choose to use cubed tomatoes.
– Stir everything well, place the lid on the pan and let the sauce simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
– While your sauce is simmering, prepare the basil by putting the basil leafs into a food processer with a bit of olive oil and blitz the basil to a coarse pulp. Don’t blitz the basil too fine, this way the basil will lose much of its flavour. Put the pulp aside.
– For the breadcrumbs; place the crumbs in a bowl, add about a tbsp. of olive oil, a tsp. of dried oregano and a large hand of parmesan. Using a fork, mix the oil, oregano and parmesan through the breadcrumbs, until the crumbs start sticking together.
– When the sauce has thickened and reduced, season the sauce with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
– Take a large oven dish (± 25 x 15 cm). Spread a small amount of tomato sauce over the bottom, followed by a hand full of breadcrumbs. Now place a layer of grilled eggplants on top of this and spread the blitzed basil on top of the eggplants. Repeat this process until everything is finished. Try to end with tomato sauce and sprinkle the top of the dish with the remaining breadcrumbs and another hand full of parmesan cheese.
– Bake the dish in the middle of the oven for about 20 to 30 minutes, until its golden brown and bubbling at the sides. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.