Friday, 29 January 2010

Parmigiana di Melanzane

I was about to make the tomato sauce for this most delectable dish, when; horror! No tinned tomatoes! Could it be possible?! Opening my recipe book, I realised that the recipe I copied down years ago actually uses ready-made tomato sauce. Phew, found two jars in the cupboard!

I have included a sauce here so you can do your own, but if you want a jar, I love Sainsbury's Siciliana sauce best of all I have tried (most of the upper-end supermarket sauces). It is thick, with an intense flavour, which makes it really good on pizzas and for lasagne. Check it out at This dish takes a little time, but if you make the sauce during the day, you can assemble it fairly quickly and then it bubbles away in the oven. It is one of my favourite dishes; rich, filling and luxurious!

Parmigiana di Melanzane (Aubergine with tomato and parmesan)

1kg aubergines
500g tomato sauce or two jars (see recipe below to make your own - about a quarter of the price!)
3x125g mozzarella balls, thinly sliced
100g finely grated parmesan cheese
a bunch of fresh basil leaves

A dish 8"x11"

Heat the oven to 170 degrees/gas mk 4.
Slice the aubergines lengthways into about 4-5 slices. Brush with olive oil and grill on both sides until golden and soft - be sure that they are cooked through otherwise they will be spongy and tough.
Layer aubergine slices, tomato sauce, torn basil leaves and parmesan, ending with a layer of aubergine and parmesan, seasoning each layer well. Remember all the layers, because I always forget one ingredient!
Bake for 1 hour and serve with green leaves and some fresh Italian bread. Wait for the sighs of delight!

Your own tomato sauce is so versatile. My friends will tell you that I am a passionate bread cook, so I always make my own pizza bases (SOOOO easy!) and using your own sauce on top is very satisfying. You can make a lot at a time and freeze it in smaller pots ready to save you time. It is difficult to get away from what the supermarkets can offer, because they use ingredients like thickeners and flavours that we can't get at home. So, be patient and experiment.

Tomato Sauce (Pomodoro)

1 onion, chopped finely
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 glass red wine
2 stalks of basil leaves
2 cans of tinned tomatoes (I like the whole ones)

Cook the onion and garlic in a good glug of olive oil (4-5 tbsp) until they are golden. Add the red wine and continue cooking to reduce the liquid, about 5 mins. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 20 minutes. I then like to whizz the sauce in a processor to make it thicker. Taste it to make sure you have seasoned well enough. This is important to make sure the sauce is not bland and affects the taste of your finished dish.

What I am cooking today:

The above! I am taking it to a friend's house, so I have bought a Waitrose curry for my family which has become a bit of a tradition on a Friday night! I tried making Jamie Oliver's Chicken Tikka Marsala last week and it was really good, with a thick sauce, so I may be tempted to forgo the mass-produced stuff next week. Haven't conquered Korma yet though. Anyone know a good recipe?

1 comment:

  1. I like the tip about Sainsbury's tomato sauce - I will try that one- Jx


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