Monday, 21 January 2013

Winter Warmer

One of my favourite dishes to cook when its cold and grey outside is Melanzane alla parmigiana. It takes a while to put together but it's well worth the effort. The recipe I use I've just developed over the years till it suits me. When I've eaten this dish out it can sometimes be very oily if the Aubergines are fried in too much oil, so I have made a 'lighter' version.

This serves six as a main meal.

Olive oil (spray)
4 Tins of quality chopped tomatoes
4 Aubergines
1 Red onion (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
fresh basil (a good bunch, torn up)
3 mozzarella cheeses (cut into little cubes)
Parmesan cheese 

First make the tomato sauce (sugo) by frying the onion and the garlic in olive oil until the onion is soft. Add all of the tomatoes and season with salt and black pepper. Cook this over a low heat for about 15mins and then stir into it the basil and leave to one side.

While the sauce is cooking start to prepare the aubergines (this is the bit that takes the longest) by cutting the top and bottom off them and then slicing each one thinly with a sharp knife. Using a non-stick frying pan and a spray of oil, dry fry the slices until they are quite soft and slightly coloured. This takes a while as you can only get a few in the pan at one time!

When the aubergines are all cooked most of the work is done and then it's just a case of putting everything together! 
Use a good sized oven-proof baking dish (about 10"x12") and spoon a couple of tablespoons of the sauce over the bottom. Now place a layer of the cooked aubergine to cover the base of the dish and on top of that sprinkle about a quarter of the chopped mozzarella.

Now spread a few spoonfuls of the sauce over the aubergine and mozzarella layers. Spread the sauce out evenly so that when it's cooking it will all mix together.

Now continue to layer the ingredients in the same order until they are all used up. Top off with a very generous scattering of grated parmesan cheese.

To this stage it can all be done well in advance (even the day before and kept in the fridge). When you are ready to cook the dish, pre-heat the oven to 190C /375F/ gas 5. Cook for about 45 minutes until it is golden brown and bubbling. Remove from the oven and leave to settle for five minutes before serving.

I serve this with a green salad and some good bread. I especially like Sun-dried tomato soda bread (a basic soda bread with some chopped up sun-dried tomatoes added along with 2 teaspoons of red pesto!) The bread is useful to mop up the delicious juices. 

Oh and don't forget a good red wine!!

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