Tuesday, November 29, 2011
(sorry about the bad, out-of-focus, photo taken quickly before sitting down to dinner)
A few years ago we went on a family beach holiday for a week. I took one cookbook away with me. It was one of the Annual Italian Issue's of Delicious magazine. And what a delicious week it was. Many of the recipes that I cooked that week have become favourite recipes in this house. It was the first time I had cooked eggplant parmigiana, served with a big green salad and a glass of red wine out on the deck - the sea breeze in our hair.
I have played around with that original recipe a little bit over the years. And as with some of my other recipes, you will notice that I have taken a few short cuts. Instead of dusting the eggplant in flour and pan frying it, I oven bake it. For me, I love this dish in summer, served, just as I mentioned it was served on our summer holiday and just how I served it last night.
Yesterday afternoon, while the eggplant baked and the sauce simmered, I was outside sitting in the shade with the kids, catching a late afternoon breeze - far away from the heat of the kitchen. It is so hot here right now. It is no fun spending time in a sweltering kitchen.
Hence the reason for my shortcut.
• 3-4 eggplants (about 1 kilogram - sliced lengthwise into 5 mm wide slices)
• olive oil
• salt and pepper
• 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
• 2 x 400 gram tins diced tomatoes
• 1/4 cup basil leaves (torn)
• 1 1/2 cups (250 grams) mozzarella cheese (grated or sliced)
• 3/4 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
• baby basil leaves
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease a 20 x 30 cm baking dish and lightly oil 2 large baking trays. Lay out the eggplant slices on the trays and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake the eggplant for about 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium size pan. Gently saute the garlic for 1 minute. Add the tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil. Season to taste. Reduce the heat to medium low heat and simmer for 30 minutes until the sauce thickens. Stir the sauce occasionally and watch it doesn't stick. Lay one third of the eggplant, slightly overlapping in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spoon over a third of the sauce and sprinkle over one third of the basil leaves, one third of the mozzarella and one third of the parmesan. Repeat the layering two more times. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until bubbling and golden on top. Sprinkle with baby basil leaves and leave for 15 - 30 minutes before serving.