Basil infused easy aubergine parmigiana – the perfect winter supper.
Aubergine parmigiana is one of those versatile dishes I love. It works perfectly for vegetarians as the main course. And it also makes a delicious side dish to eat – with hake or cod, with a nut roast or with lamb dishes. And, this is a dish you can make in advance, pop in the fridge, and reheat when you are ready to eat. It will keep in the fridge for two to three days.
Aubergine (Eggplant if you are American or Melazane if you are Italian) used to be a little tricky to prepare – you’d slice your aubergines before salting them in layers in a colander, weighting them down and leaving them to degorge. The theory was that they had a bitter taste that could be removed that way. Today’s aubergines have been developed so you no longer have to do that. The lovely Felicity Cloake ran a taste test, published in the Guardian which gives me enough confidence to know I really don’t have to degorge any more – it neither removed a bitter taste nor helps increase the intensity of flavour!
In the summer, I use fresh tomatoes to make the sauce and garnish the dish at the end with fresh basil leaves. But, I still add some tomato concentrate, whether I am using tinned or fresh tomatoes. And, dried basil actually works better cooked into the sauce, keeping that vivid red tomato colour and providing an intensity of flavour. It’s worth remembering that dried soft herbs like basil do need to be used up fairly quickly – I love the peppery notes of the Schwarz basil that I’m using here and do add it liberally to all sorts of pasta dishes so I really don’t find that a problem.
If you’d like to try making this aubergine parmigiana, a perfect easy supper dish, here’s a shopping list.
- 1 large aubergine weighing around 450-500g (or two smaller ones)
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- Red wine – you’ll need around 100ml – which leaves plenty to share with your supper
- 1 large onion
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- Good quality olive oil
- Parmesan cheese
- 150g ball of mozzarella
- 1 slice of white bread made into bread crumbs (option)
- Tomato concentrate
- 1/2 level teaspoon Schwartz basil
- Salt and pepper
As you can see, most of the ingredients, including the Schwartz herbs, are things you’ll have in the storecupboard anyway – and everything else is readily available.
Once you’ve got all your ingredients, making up the aubergine parmigiana is really simple. Start by getting the tomato sauce ready – chop the onion and sweat it in oil for about 8 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook on a medium heat for a further minute. Add the tomato concentrate and cook for one more minute, stirring constantly. This helps to remove the tinny taste which you get from a concentrate. Then add in the chopped tomatoes, red wine and basil, seasoning with a little salt and pepper (be careful not to over-salt at this stage). Turn the heat right down and cook for 10 minutes till you have a rich sauce. You can make larger quantities of this (just double up the ingredients) so you have a pasta or pizza sauce. It will keep well in the fridge for a few days or you can freeze it for up to 3 months.
While the sauce is cooking slice the aubergines into rounds about 1/2 cm thick, grate the parmesan and tear the mozzarella into pieces. Fry the aubergine in olive oil till it starts to soften and go slightly golden. If you are trying to watch your weight, you can skip this stage and save calories. Just add an extra 10 minutes baking time. But, the flavour will not be the same…it’s that rich, tomato and herb sauce with olive oil and aubergine that makes this dish so special. You can also use a low-fat mozzarella or even leave it out altogether, in my view a better way to save calories!
Put a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a gratin dish, then a layer of aubergine and mozzarella, then more tomato sauce, then another layer of aubergine. Cover the dish with the remaining tomato sauce and then top with the breadcrumbs and parmesan.
Bake in a preheated oven at 175C for about 40 minutes. At this stage, you can eat the aubergine parmigiana, or take it out of the oven and leave to cool before covering and putting in the fridge. Reheat at 175c for 20 minutes, covering the dish with foil if the topping starts to burn. Just to make life easy, here’s a printable recipe for you, complete with the nutritional guidelines.
Easy Aubergine Parmigiana
- 1 large aubergine weighing around 450-500g or two smaller ones
- 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 100 ml red wine
- 1 large onion peeled and finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic crushed or chopped
- 60 ml good quality olive oil
- 60 g Parmesan cheese grated
- 150 g ball of mozzarella
- 1 slice of white bread made into bread crumbs optional
- 1 tbsp tomato concentrate
- 1/2 level teaspoon Schwartz basil
- salt and pepper
- Chop the onion finely and sweat it in a little of the oil for about 8 minutes.
- Add the chopped garlic and cook on a medium heat for a further minute.
- Add the tomato concentrate and cook for one more minute, stirring constantly
- Add in the chopped tomatoes, red wine and basil, seasoning with a little salt and pepper.
- Turn the heat right down and cook for 10 minutes till you have a rich fragrant sauce.
- While the sauce is cooking slice your aubergines, grate the parmesan and tear the mozzarella into pieces.
- Fry the aubergine slices in olive oil till they start to soften and go slightly golden (about 2 minutes on each side). The aubergines will soak up any oil really quickly - but you don't need to keep adding more!
- Put a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a gratin dish, then a layer of aubergine and mozzarella, then more tomato sauce, then another layer of aubergine. Season each layer with salt and pepper as you go, remembering that the cheese will add saltiness to the dish
- Mix the breadcrumbs and 2/3rds of the parmesan together.
- Cover the dish with the remaining tomato sauce and then top with the breadcrumbs and parmesan mixture. Finish the dish with the remaining parmesan
- Bake in a preheated oven at 175C for about 40 minutes.
- Let the aubergine parmigiana cool for 10 minutes before serving so the flavours can meld together.
This dish, made in much the same way, has been one of my favourites since I was at university. I make my own version of chicken parmigiana too, using a butterflied skinned chicken breast sandwiched in between the two layers of aubergine. That, apparently, is wrong – I should be breading the chicken breast to make what my Australian friends seem to think is a national dish! I think I’ll stick to my own version though – adding a breaded fried chicken breast is just one calorie too far for me!
Looking for something different? try my flexitarian lentil shepherd’s pie
Thinking of making this recipe yourself? Why not pin it for later
Disclosure: *Schwartz has sent me (this product) for review, but all views are my own*