How To Make Aubergine Parmigiana
Aubergine parmigiana, also known as "melanzane alla parmigiana" or even "eggplant Parmesan" if you really insist on upsetting the nation of Italy, is a classic Italian dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. There are plenty of theories surrounding the origins of this dish with Parma, Sicily, and Naples all laying claim to be its place of origin. Regardless of who created it first, there's no denying that it's a hearty and delicious casserole. Traditionally, making an aubergine parmigiana involves slicing and frying the aubergines before layering them with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. The dish is then baked until the cheese is melted and bubbly, creating a gooey and satisfying texture. It's a rich old number that's often served as a main course and perfect for feeding a crowd. But don't let that stop you from eating it as a side dish, if that's what your heart desires.
Aubergine parm is a popular dish throughout Italy and has spread all around the world, with many different variations and adaptations. Chicken parmigiana and veal parmigiana are two of the most famous (and delicious) riffs on the dish.
At Mob, we've taken the classic recipe for aubergine parmigiana and given it our own twist to create what we believe to be the most fuss-free version of this delicious dish. It's our lazy man's parmigiana. Instead of frying the aubergines, we've grilled them to bring out their natural sweetness and give the dish a more complex roasted flavour. We've also added a few extra secret ingredients to make it even more satisfying. Intrigued? I bet.
This recipe will impress your guests and leave them coming back for more. So, let's get cracking on this ultimate version of aubergine parmigiana.
You Will Need:
6 Garlic Cloves
Small Handful of Oregano Leaves
2 Tbsp Tomato Purée
250ml Red Wine
3 x 400g Tins of Plum Tomatoes
Pinch of Sugar
2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
2 x 250g Balls Mozzarella
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium/low heat. Finely dice the onions and add to the pan with a big pinch of salt and fry for around 10 mins, or until totally softened.
Slice your garlic as finely as you can, (you can also grate it or crush it if you don't fancy slicing),and add to the pan with the oregano leaves. Cook for a couple more mins. Add the tomato paste and cook it out in the pan for 2 mins. Turn the heat up, then pour in the red wine, bubble away for 2-3 mins, until the wine has reduced by half. Add the tomatoes, bring to the boil, then turn right down to a low simmer, add the pinch of sugar, and leave to bubble away for the VERY LEAST an hour, stirring regularly. (If you can leave for a couple of hours, you'll thank yourself for it).
Meanwhile, heat the grill as high as possible. Grab your largest baking sheet and cover it with foil. Chop the aubergines into chunks. I do this by taking off the tops, quartering lengthways, then slicing the long quarters a few times horizontally into 2-3cm chunks. Tip the chunks out onto the baking sheet – they need to be in an even layer so spread them out over a second tray if you need to- don't worry if it looks like too much, they'll shrink as they cook!
Season the aubergines generously with salt, (don't be tempted to add oil) then slide under the grill to cook for 45 - 50 mins, until really charred and totally collapsed. Tip into a large baking dish, roasting tray, or an ovenproof frying pan if you've halved the recipe!
Turn the oven to 180°C fan. Taste the tomato sauce, add the red wine vinegar and season to taste, adding a little more sugar and salt as it needs. Smush the tomatoes down a little to make a smoother sauce. Pour the tomato sauce over the top of the grilled aubergine chunks, no need for layering here! You might need to use a spoon to make sure the sauce gets all the way to the bottom. Drain the mozzarella balls, pat dry, then tear and use to cover the aubergine and tomato sauce. Finely grate the parmesan over the top. Bake for 30 mins, then allow to sit for 10 mins before serving.