A woman, an oven, and aubergines

A woman, an oven, and aubergines

I am so, so sorry for my lack of blogging lately. My life is just a whirlwind, and it just doesn’t seem to slow down. I am completely loving the study I started last September, but it takes up a LOT of time!

Anyway, back to food! I belive I’ve mentioned Melanzane a few times before, as one of my all time favourite dishes (but honestly.. grilled aubergine and cheese, what’s not to love?). And at last I’ve had the time to cook it again, and, more importantly, take pictures of it so I can finally blog about it.
Have I mentioned my love for aubergines (or eggplants) before? If not, I love, love, love, love, LOVE them. As a child I disliked them, but mostly because some of my friends did and I didn’t want to be the odd one out. By the time I reached pre-pubescent age, my mother convinced me to like them via her ratatouille. Not so long after, I started loving them. And even shorter after that, I just adored them. Plainly grilled and drizzled with a little olive oil and some seasalt, or quicjly baked with some dried organo, or wrapped in aluminum foil and tucked slowcooked between the coals of your bbq.. I love absolutely every way of preparation.

So when a few years back I discovered Parmigiano di Melanzane, I was instantly smitten. Rich tomatosauce, lovely grilled aubergines, creamy mozzarella, hearty parmensan and the sweetness of fresh basil.. oh my goodness I was in foodheaven. It is actually meant as a side-dish, but I just double the amount and serve it as a main course. And everyone who has ever tried it, even those who claim to dislike aubergine, couldn’t resist the succulent deliciousness that is Melanzane. But don’t take my word for it, try it yourself!

Parmigiano di Melanzane (4 persons)

  • 3 large aubergines, cut lengthwise
  • 2 x 400 grams (14 oz) cans of plum tomatoes
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of dried oregano
  • a large handful of basil, stalks finely sliced and leaves torn or sliced into little pieces
  • 2 bulbs mozzarella, preferably buffalo, torn into pieces
  • a large handful of parmensan cheese, finely grated
  • freshly ground seasalt and black pepper
  • OPTIONAL: one pepperoncini, finely sliced
First, sprinkle the aubergine slices with salt. This will extract any redundant fluids from the slices and cause them to char nicely. Make sure you let them rest long enough, then, pat the slices dry with paper towels and repeat on the other site. Preheat the oven to 180 ºC (350 ºF).
In a large saucepan, heat a big glug of olive oil, and add the onions, garlic and basil stems. Quickly fry these on high heat, turn down the heat, add the oregano (if used, the pepperoncini as well) and slowly let it all sweat for a while until the garlic starts to color and the onion becomes translucent.
Next, add the plum tomatoes. Break them up with a wooden spoon, turn the heat down to a simmer and let the sauce bubble for a bit.
Meanwhile, heat up a grill-pan on high heat and make sure it is completely covered in olive oil. When the oil starts to smoke, add the aubergine slices. If the pan is hot enough, it won’t take long untill theyh are properly grilled/charred.
After you’ve grilled all the slices and the sauce is ready (make sure you taste it for the necessarily salt and pepper addition).
 In an oven dish, start with a layer of aubergine slices

then spread some tomatosauce (making sure you cover the aubergines)

 sprinkle it with some parmensan and basil, and repeat.
Look at those tasty colours!
After ending with the original layering (aubergine-sauce-basil/parmensan), top it of with the mozzarella pieces.
Place in the oven for about 20 minutes, and serve with a fresh green salad and some nice Italian wine. Enjoy!
Just looking at this picture makes me hungry again.. hmmmm….

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