Melanzane a la Parmigiana

Melanzane a la Parmigiana or aubergine parmigiana for us non-italians is one of my favourite dishes. While it is made solely of vegetables and may seem fresh and healthy it is every bit as decadent as its sister meat lasagna. Typically you deep fry the sliced aubergine before layering it in a casserole dish with tomato sauce, grana padano, and mozarella. Some even add a tad of bechamel sauce to thicken up the layers. While I love almost everything which is deep fat fried (I lived in Belgium for almost ten years…) during the week I have no desire or patience to deep fry aubergines! So I looked online for different parmigiana recipes and came up with a combination of all of them which results in a healthier and easier to make parmigiana.

You will need:

  • 3-4 big purple aubergines, sliced.
  • 1 can of chopped marzano tomatoes (or the best quality chopped tomatoes/passata you can find – it really makes a difference and they are not that much more expensive).
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped.
  • Fresh basil
  • 2 mozzarella balls.
  • 200 grams of grana padano (similar to parmigiano but milder and cheaper), or a mix of grana padano and parmiggiano.

1. Start by slicing and washing the aubergines and sprinkle them heavily with salt. Put in a container and let it rest for a while to get rid of the bitterness. While they are resting start preparing the sauce.

2. Fry the onion and the garlic in olive oil until translucid. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook in a medium heat for 5-10 minutes, then lower the heat and simmer for half an hour. Finish the sauce by adding the basil and wizzing it in a mixer or smoothie machine. Now it’s time to start layering!

3. Start with a layer of tomato sauce, add a layer of aubergine, another layer of sauce, a layer of grana padano and a layer of mozzarella. Repeat in the same order until you have used up the ingredients. Make sure to add extra cheese on the last layer so it crisps up on top.

4. Cook at 180 degrees in the middle of the oven for about 45 minutes. Let it rest for a bit before you cut into it.

Enjoy a healthy parmigiana which is as good as the time-consuming, deep fried version!

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