Aubergine parmigiana

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Manuela Zangara serves up her aubergine parmigiana recipe, a super-simple comfort food recipe built from layers of aubergine, passata, Parmesan and mozzarella. If cooking for vegetarians, swap the Parmesan for a similar hard cheese made using vegetable-based rennet.

First published in 2017

Aubergine parmigiana is one of the most iconic Italian dishes. It is made with fried aubergine slices, layered with tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano. The dish is then baked till golden brown. I assure you there is nothing better than cutting through layers of delicious aubergine and seeing the mozzarella stretching out of it.

The origins of the dish are uncertain: both Sicily and Campania claim to have created it, and there is likely to be truth in both of these claims, though it is more plausible to think that the dish was first born in Sicily, where the Arabs introduced aubergines for the first time. Only later it was modified in Naples where mozzarella was added to it.

This is one of my favourite dishes: comfort food at its best. Aubergine parmigiana is a great appetiser or side dish. It also works really well for lunch, especially if served with a green salad. Buon appetito!




Aubergine parmigiana


Slice the aubergine lengthways into 1.5cm thick slices and soak them in salty water for 30 minutes. Pat dry then fry the aubergine slices in vegetable oil until golden. Place them in a colander to drain any excess oil
In the meantime, prepare the tomato sauce. Sauté the garlic with the extra virgin olive oil for 1 minute, taking care not to burn it or the sauce will taste bitter. Add the passata and basil leaves and season with salt to taste. Cover and cook for 10–15 minutes on low, then set aside
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
To assemble the parmigiana, put a scoop of tomato sauce at the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Top with a layer of fried aubergine, tomato sauce, grated Parmesan, and sliced mozzarella. Then repeat the layers until you run out of aubergine. Finish the top layer with the tomato sauce and grated Parmesan
Bake for 20–25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm

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Manuela is an Italian native who currently resides in Australia. She is the author of Manu’s Menu, a food blog about traditional Italian cuisine that she started in 2011. Her blog is one of the top food blogs in Australia.

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