Whatever the season, here’s a classic Italian veggie bake: Aubergine Parmigiana. As usual with typical dishes, this is a homemade tradition and every family has their own method and ingredients to make it. My friend Gianfranco from Puglia always says “You can be as beautiful as ever, but if you don’t know how to make parmigiana, you have no charm!” – this saying, applicable to men and women alike, illustrates how big a staple of the Italian kitchen this recipe is. Often made with mozzarella in various regions, the real parmigiana is arguably made with caciocavallo (or the very similar scamorza or provoletta) as a main cheese. I like both variants, but the caciocavallo version is, beyond doubt, richer in flavour and makes a much more interesting meal if you want to impress, whether you are cooking for guests or just for yourself!
I recommend making the parmigiana at least a few hours before you consume it. This will ensure that all ingredients have a more unified flavour, and it lets the dish set so when you slice it to serve, it will stay compact and tidy on the plates.
2 medium size aubergines
750ml basil tomato sauce
1 small caciocavallo or scamorza
150gr grated parmesan
Step 1 – The very first step is to prepare the tomato sauce. I recommend using our recipe to make it from scratch, but you can also make it using the bottled passatas you find in the supermarket.
Step 2 – Slice your caciocavallo and put it on the side. Then finely slice your aubergines along the length, ready to fry.
Step 3 – In a frying pan, pour in a generous amount of frying oil – I use olive oil because it’s very flavoursome and healthy, but if you prefer frying in a seed oil, feel free to use your favourite. When the oil is hot, deep fry your aubergines making sure they are nice and golden and place them on a plate with absorbent paper so they loose some of the excess oil.
Step 4 – Once all aubergine slices are fried, in an oven tray start preparing your bake. Layer your tomato sauce, then the aubergines, caciocavallo slices and parmesan. Repeat the layering till you run out of ingredients…and space in the tray!
Step 5 – Stick it in a hot oven for 30 minutes at 180 degrees, check that it’s nice and golden before taking it out and let it set.
Step 6 – Serve warm and enjoy. I’m sure of this one – you’ll clean the plate! Buon appetito.