For the last months we’ve been through Christmas meaning Turkey and Christmas Pudding, New Year’s Eve meaning Salmon, Foie-Gras, Chocolates and other Pastries, January meaning “Galette des Rois” filled with a delicious Frangipane and recently, February and Candlemas meaning lots of pancakes shared with the family or friends…..
Before “Mardi-Gras” on the 8th of March, I was thinking of doing a break and writing about an Italian recipe usually heavy (especially when you ask for it in restaurants…) but revisited the healthy way….
The Parmigiana is an Italian dish made with Aubergines, Tomato Sauce, Parmesan and sometimes Mozzarella. The method is close to the Lasagna but the Aubergines replace the Pasta layer.
Depending on how much olive oil and Parmesan you put in that dish, it will be more or less heavy. That’s why I will not indicate a specific amount of Parmesan or Olive oil and keep the Mozzarella as optional in that recipe….
Ingredients for the Parmigiana
- 4 large firm Aubergines
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic crushed
- 1 tbsp of fresh oregano finely chopped or 1/2 tsp of dried oregano
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 500ml Passata
- sea salt & black pepper
- white wine vinegar
- a handful of basil shredded
- Freshly grated Parmesan
- a tbsp of capers finely chopped (optional)
- 1-2 Mozzarella balls thinly sliced (optional)
Method for the Aubergines*
- Using a serrated knife such as bread knife or smaller, cut the washed aubergines lengthway into 1 cm thick slices.
- Place them next to each other in trays lined with baking paper. Drizzle with olive oil, add salt, pepper, oregano and put them in the oven at 180-200° until they get soft and a bit grilled. Turn them on the other side and put them back in the oven in order to get them evenly cooked.
- Let them cool down while making the Tomato Sauce.
Method for the Tomato Sauce
- Into a large pan on a medium heat, pour a little amount of olive oil then add the onion, crushed garlic and oregano and cook for 5-10 minutes, until the onion is soft and the garlic has a tiny bit of colour.
- Then, add the tinned tomatoes, Passata and capers (if you like them) to the onion, garlic and oregano. Give the mixture a good stir, then put a lid on the pan and simmer slowly for 15-20 minutes.
- When the tomato sauce is reduced and sweet, season it carefully with salt, pepper and a tsp or tbsp of wine vinegar. At last add the shredded basil.
How to layer the Parmigiana**
- In a gratin dish put a small layer of tomato sauce, then cover with Parmesan, followed by a single layer of aubergines.
- Repeat these layers until you’ve used all the ingredients up, finishing with a little sauce and another good sprinkling of Parmesan.
- Place the dish in the oven and bake at 190° for half an hour until golden, crisp and bubbly.
* Aubergines are like sponges, they absorb a lot of olive oil. When you drizzle the olive oil, don’t add too much of it because it disappears as soon as you pour it. You just need a little bit to get the Aubergines tasteful.
** If you want to use Mozzarella, cut the Mozzarella ball into thin slices and layer them on top of the Aubergine layer. You can finish with a layer of Mozzarella and Parmesan, it will give you a tasteful cheese crust when sharing the dish.
You can serve the Parmigiana as a main dish with fresh green salad and rice but also as a side dish with fish or beef.