Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Aubergine Parmigiana

Aubergine Parmigiana with lemon chicken and green veg

Aubergine Parmigiana

I was first introduced to Aubergine Parmigiana by my Italian ex-flatmate Alessio. He cooked it early in the morning, leaving it to cool before we took turns to carry it across London to a picnic in Victoria Park. It smelt amazing and I couldn’t wait to try the dish. We tore pieces of baguette and spooned the intensely flavoured aubergine into our hungry mouths. It was delicious, so I quickly wrote down what I remembered from Alessio’s cooking (as he refused to share his grandmother’s secret). I have now cooked my version many times and not had one complaint – even Alessio was impressed when I made it for him.

Serves: 4 as a side dish

2 aubergines, sliced to discs with ½ cm width
2 cans (approx 400g each) chopped tomatoes
Handful fresh herbs – parsley, thyme, rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
Tomato puree
1tsp sugar
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
Chunk of Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Sprinkle the aubergine disks with a little salt and leave the moisture to be absorbed while you make the tomato sauce.

In a medium sized pan heat a glug of olive oil and fry the onion gently until it starts to brown, add the garlic and cook for a minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, almost fill one of the empty tins with water and add that to the pan too. When the tomatoes start to bubble add a squidge of tomato puree, a teaspoon of sugar and sprinkle over the fresh herbs. Stir everything together and season to taste. Leave on a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, brush a large frying pan with olive oil and gently fry the aubergine disks for a few minutes on each side. They will start to appear almost translucent. Leave these to drain on kitchen paper and repeat the process until you have used all of the aubergine.
Heat the oven to 180º/Gas mark 4.

Layer a baking dish with tomato sauce, aubergine discs, more tomato sauce, a little seasoning and cover with a layer of finely grated cheese. Repeat until all ingredients are used.

Place in the oven for 30 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

I like to cook this dish a few hours/a day in advance, letting the flavour intensify before re-heating again just before serving. 

M: I was in the mood for Chicken so cooked up a few chicken thighs (they are cheaper and have more flavour than chicken breasts).

2 chicken thighs
Juice of ½ lemon
Few sprigs of rosemary
Sea salt and black pepper
Olive oil

Gravy: Knob of butter
Tbsp flour

Heat the oven to 180º/Gas Mark 5.

Rub the chicken thighs with the olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, sea salt and black pepper and place them into an ovenproof dish along with the leftover lemon peel.  Cook in the oven for 30 minutes.

5 minutes before serving make a little gravy by melting a knob of butter in a pan and off the heat quickly stir in the flour until you have a paste. Gently add the juices from the chicken and return the chicken to the oven. Mix the gravy together over a medium heat and season to taste.

V:  The vegetarian was at work late so he had his dish with a simple poached egg and green veg (cooked similar to this)when he got in.

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