This is an all-time FAVOURITE. My gran makes it, my aunt makes it… I eat it (all of it if I can haha). The way the tomato and melted cheese work together, and the Melanzane (aubergine) melts away in your mouth! Just describing it makes my mouth water… I may have to make another one soon! It always looked so complicated, so I never tried to make it before. Leave it to the experts as they say. Well, I say anyone can do it AND not having it for a while is torture… so I decided to take the plunge! And out of the attempt came the yummiest, melt-in-your-mouth Melanzane Alla Parmigiana!
One bite and I can remember eating it at my Nonna’s house at Sunday lunch! There were always fights over who would get the leftovers (if there were any). The next bite takes me to my aunt’s house in Vienna when she made it for Stew and I. This is where Stew fell in love with it… I think. But yes, each bite of the Parmigiana is a memory bomb AND a taste bomb.
When do you make this dish?
I would say it is perfect to warm you up on the freezy winter nights, but I am pretty sure I could devour a whole tray hot out the oven… in the middle of summer! I would make it every weekend if I could haha. But it is perfect for family dinners, romantic dinners or occasions, or just when you need a pick me up!
A lot of people aren’t a fan of aubergines because of the texture, or because it can be a bit bitter sometimes (depending on the way it is cooked). But, this dish will change the way you feel about them! I promise!
this dish takes a bit of time to make. I personally love making dishes that take a bit of prep time, but some people don’t. And that’s okay! Just giving you a heads up! The sauce is made from scratch – simple cooking with some added basil for flavour. This cooks for at least 45 min. Sounds long, but you use that time to prep the aubergine. The aubergine needs to sit for a similar amount of time in salt, to make sure they are not too soggy or bitter. So it’s a win-win prep time.
Okay so without further babbling… here it is!
Melt-In-Your-Mouth Melanzane Alla Parmigiana
- 3 Large Aubergines
- 680 g Tomato Passata (you can use tinned whole, skinless tomatoes that have been blitzed into a smooth sauce)
- Olive Oil
- 2 Medium Fresh Mozzarella Balls
- 150 g Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 6 Basil leaves
- Sea Salt
First, prep the sauce. Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the tomato passata, and a pinch of salt into a saucepan. slowly bring to the boil, and allow to cook for 30 minutes. then add in the basil, and allow to cook for a further 15 - 20 min.
While the sauce is cooking, slice the aubergine into 5mm slices.
Then in a large plate, start to layering the aubergine, sea salt and kitchen towel. first a piece of kitchen towel, then a layer of aubergine, and then sprinkle some salt over it to draw out the water and bitterness. Then repeat the layers, starting again with the paper towel. leave them for about 50 minutes so that all the moisture draws out.
When the sauce is done, and the aubergines have been sitting for a while. It is time to cook the aubergines. Add some olive oil (3 Tbsp) to a frying pan on a medium heat. Fry the aubergine (in batches) until just soft (about 3min each side). when they are cooked, leave them to rest on a paper towel until all the aubergine is cooked.
*you may need to top up the olive oil as you cook.
Now everything is cooked, time to layer! In an oven dish (mine was about 30cm long and 20 cm wide), add a little bit (3 tablespoons) of sauce, and smooth out. This is just so that the aubergine does not stick. You then add 1 layer of aubergine, then a light layer of grated Parmigiano, and then a few pieces of the mozzarella.
Start the layers again, first the sauce (enough to just cover the cheese), then the aubergine, then the Parmigiano and the mozzarella. Do this until the aubergine is done, and you end with sauce and cheese on top.
It's ready to cook! I made mine in the morning, so it was in the fridge until dinner time. But you can cook straight away - it may need less time as it will still be a bit warm. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius, and then bake the Melanzane for 40 min or until the cheese on top is golden brown and bubbling a little.
And enjoy 🙂