Melanzane parmigiana recipe

Theo Randall 28 April 2021

As spring rolls into summer, this classic aubergine recipe from Puglia is perfect for al fresco dining 

An all-time classic from southern Italy, this combination of sweet aubergines and tomato baked with mozzarella and Parmesan is a real treat. It reminds me of our summer holidays in Puglia and a restaurant called Osteria Bell’Italia. This version is a blatant copy of the dish on their menu – but sometimes good recipes are just best left alone.

When you choose your aubergines, it's important that you pick them up and if they feel heavy for their size they will probably be full of seeds, so avoid those ones, also if they have a matt colour and a very thick skin they will also be full of seeds, so pick the ones that feel very light and are super shiny. The aubergines will be sweet in flavour, not bitter and will cook much quicker. 

Melanzane Parmigianno

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for oiling
  • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 600g (1lb 5oz) tomato passata
  • 4 aubergines (eggplants), half-peeled to give stripes (to help the aubergine cook evenly)
  • 3 organic eggs, beaten
  • 200g (7oz) tipo 00 flour
  • 100ml (3½fl oz) sunflower oil
  • 200g (7oz) mozzarella, chopped
  • 100g (3½oz) Parmesan, finely grated
  • sea salt and freshly ground
  • black pepper

Method: 

1. Place a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. When hot, add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic and fry for about 30 seconds, until the garlic is soft but has no colour.

2. Add 4 of the basil leaves and cook for 30 seconds, then add the passata, reduce the heat and cook for about 15 minutes, until the sauce has reduced by half. Tear in the remaining basil and add the remaining olive oil. Season and set aside.

3. Slice the aubergines into 1cm (½in) rounds. Transfer them to a colander and sprinkle with salt. Leave for 20 minutes to draw out the liquid, then pat the slices dry with kitchen paper.

4. Have ready the beaten eggs in one bowl and the flour in another. Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Dip each aubergine slice into the egg to coat, then place in the flour, taking care to fully coat each slice.

5. Shake off any excess flour then fry, in batches, for 3 minutes on each side until they are all cooked through and have a nice, golden colour. Place on kitchen paper to drain.

6. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Lightly oil abaking dish with olive oil. Arrange a layer of cooked aubergines evenly in the bottom of the dish, spoon over one third of the tomato sauce, sprinkle over one third of the chopped mozzarella, and sprinkle over one third of the Parmesan.

7. Repeat the layers twice more, finishing with the final layer of Parmesan. Bake the parmigiana for 35 minutes, or until the top is golden and crispy (give it up to another 10 minutes, if you need to).

Theo Randall  Italian Deli Cookbook

The Italian Deli Cookbook by Theo Randall (Quadrille, £26)

Photography: Lizzie Mason

 

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