Something very strange happened in the UK this year…we had a summer. A summer with actual sunshine. It’s been glorious – eating outside at lunch, picnics in the park at the weekend and even the very hint of a tan. It’s also been the perfect weather for growing vegetable in my teenie tiny garden. I have triumphed with my aubergines (my tomatoes not so much) so this weekend I baked one of my favourites, Melanzane Parmigiana.
I used –
3 delicious aubergines, washed, pampered and sliced lengthways into thickish pieces
A tin of chopped tomatoes
Half a white onion
A generous bunch of basil leaves
A teaspoon of oregano
A little dash of white wine vinegar
A sprinkle of sugar
And some fine shavings of parmigiana or parmesan
According to a recent Italian cookery programme I watched, there is no need to salt aubergines anymore because they’re “grown differently to how they used to be” (vague). However, I just got my aubergine seeds out of the packet and thought I’d give the salting a go. I did this by placing the sliced aubergines next to each other on a big chopping board, layered with kitchen roll. I then put kitchen roll on the top of the aubergine and then another chopping board on top of that. I weighed the boards down with some cookery books for about an hour or so until the kitchen roll was saturated in aubergine juice.
In the meantime, I made the tomato sauce. Into a pan on a medium heat I slowly melted down the white onion and oregano with a sprinkling of sugar and a big glug of olive oil. Do not let the onions brown and crisp, instead let them lightly sizzle and soften. To the onion pour in the can of chopped tomatoes and the dribble of white wine vinegar. Simmer for about ten minutes or so with the lid. Tear some fresh basil leaves from the plant and add to the pan and keep the lid off now. What I should have done, but didn’t, is pour the sauce into a blender to make it smooth.
Into a small lasagne dish, I layered a couple of spoonful’s of sauce with a single layer of aubergines and repeated until I had used all of the aubergines. I used the remaining sauce to top the dish and sprinkled with parmigiana (or parmesan) shavings. After baking for 30 minutes I had a lovely, crispy on top with rich tomato sauce Melanzane Parmigiana. (I went a bit OTT with the basil decoration.) I served with salad, garlic bread and cold, roasted butternut squash from the previous evening.