Eggplant parmigiana

Making up for a lack of gluten with cheese is pretty much my approach to life these days. My version of eggplant parmigiana skips out the step of coating the eggplant in breadcrumbs which reeks of effort anyway. Instead the eggplant is baked until browned and tender, then sandwiched between layers of chilli and lemon infused tomato sauce, mozzarella, fresh basil, and parmesan.

The breadcrumbs aren’t actually missed and it makes my parmigiana lighter; if you can call a dish with two types of cheese light. Serve with a pile of green vegetables drizzled with good extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Eggplant parmigiana

Makes enough for 4 generous servings (let’s be honest, there’s no such thing as a small serve of eggplant parmigiana)

For the eggplant:

2 eggplant

oil for drizzling

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220°C on fanbake. Slice the eggplant into rounds about 1.5cm thick. Place on a baking tray in a single layer and drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper (if the eggplant doesn’t fit on the tray in a single layer, do this step in two batches). Place the tray in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until browned and tender. Once you’ve cooked all of the eggplant, reduce the oven temperature to 200°C. 

For the tomato sauce:

3-4 garlic cloves, crushed, grated or finely chopped 

a slosh of oil

2 cans of cherry tomatoes (or whole Italian tomatoes)

a pinch of chilli flakes

1/2 teaspoon sugar 

sea salt 

freshly ground black pepper

zest of a lemon

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes while you stir it. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and add the chilli and sugar. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil, then reduce and simmer over a low-medium heat. Stir the sauce frequently until it has reduced and thickened; about 20 minutes. Add the lemon zest and remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside.

Putting it together: 

200g fresh mozzarella, sliced

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan 

a large handful fresh basil leaves 

Take a baking dish (I used an enamel dish measuring 20 x 30cm). Layer some eggplant on the bottom of the dish. Tear up some mozzarella and distribute over the top. Pour over some tomato sauce and tear up some basil leaves and sprinkle over some parmesan. Keep laying in this manner, finishing with tomato sauce topped with some chunks of mozzarella and parmesan.

Bake the eggplant parmigiana at 200°C for 40 minutes until it is browned and bubbling at the edges; place an oven tray underneath the dish if it looks like the sauce is going to bubble over. Once cooked, remove the parmigiana from the oven and leave to sit for 15 minutes.  

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