My favourite colour is purple and it has been since I was a teenager. It’s such a sumptuous colour, so deep and rich. It’s not a girlie colour either (I don’t do girlie), it’s a solid, bold and strong colour. There was a spell when I had purple hair. I stood out in the crowd and felt, probably as any other students with silly hair, ‘unique’. It all ended when I got a ‘proper’ job and felt the need to conform. Now I have brown hair…
Anyway. Purple is my favourite colour and with that in mind, it probably won’t come as too much of a surprise that the aubergine is one of my favourite vegetables. Shiny purple! Thankfully it tastes good too; or rather it cooks well and takes up other flavourings well.
Now, I have already sung the praises of the local market and one of the best things about this place is the price of the food; especially aubergines! Some weeks they are two for £1, others they are two for 80p. Whichever week it is, I am sure that you will agree that these prices are very bargainous. Aubergines don’t need to do much to sell themselves to me so when they are priced so ridiculously I can’t help but buy a few.
So what to do with all these aubergines? There are, undoubtedly, many things I could do. I could make a curry, stuff them or make some baba ganoush. Maybe next time I will try one of these, but I had recently spotted Tessa’s baked aubergine with tomato, mozzarella & Parmesan which reminded me of the Italian Melanzane parmigiana, one of my favourite Italian dishes. So my first recipe on here is vegetarian and pretty simple to make. No scary or unusual ingredients; just simple good home-cooking.
2 aubergines – sliced
2 large tomatoes -sliced
250g mozzarella – sliced
75g Parmesan – grated finely
1 medium onion – finely diced
2 large cloves of garlic – finely diced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 tins of tomatoes (400g each), drained of the tomato juice
good squirt of tomato puree
I pre-heated the oven to 180C, then heated a griddle pan on a high heat until almost smoking hot and brushed the aubergine slices with some olive oil before seasoning them. I then griddled the aubergine in batches; until the charred lines appeared. Whilst doing that I heated up some of the oil in a saucepan and slowly fried the onions on a gentle heat. I wanted to soften the onions, but not brown them. Once softened, I added the garlic and dried basil. After a minute or two I added the tinned tomatoes and stirred in the tomato purée. I then just left the sauce to cook down on a low heat very slowly so that the sauce could thicken; probably for about 20-30 mins.
When the sauce and aubergines were ready, I took an oven proof glass dish – about 22cms by 22cms – and covered the bottom of it with the sliced tomatoes. Then I added a layer of the tomato sauce, then a sprinkling of Parmesan, a layer of aubergines, a layer of mozzarella, a layer of tomato sauce etc etc until all the ingredients had been used. I was left with a layer of aubergines on top and I sprinkled a good amount of the Parmesan on top. Baked in the oven for 30 mins and served with salad and crusty bread.
It was good; simple and relatively healthy too. The sauce was a bit watery (probably because this time I hadn’t drained the tomatoes – I will next time!). Also I think breadcrumbs on top would be an improvement to give it a crusty topping. The Parmesan is the most expensive ingredient used, but it is such a strong cheese and really does add to the flavour, so it isn’t one to miss. I will probably skip the tomatoes on the bottom next time. They didn’t really add any flavouring to the dish, but will have added some liquid. As with most tomato based dishes, the flavour develops with time, so it will make great left overs too.