As you might know, I’m a recent convert when it comes to eating aubergines. It is dishes like this one that are converting me though. Grilled aubergines covered in a rich and herby tomato sugo and plenty of cheese… Of course it is mouthwatering! As tasty as this is, though, it’s also a little fussy. However, fear not, as the fuss is well worth the delicious meal you will have later! This Melanzane Parmigiana goes really well with garlic bread or focaccia on the side and served along some fresh green salad.

More in Meat Free mains: Super Easy Tomato Pasta Bake; Squash, Taleggio and Sage Pizza; Roast pumpkin, sage and taleggio risotto.

Melanzane Parmigiana with Green Salad

Serves 6 | Prep 30 mins |Cook 1hr 25 mins
A little effort | Meat free | Vegetarian if vegetarian alternative to Parmesan is used


You’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing;
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed;
  • 3 thyme sprigs;
  • 8 large sage leaves, finely chopped;
  • 4 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes;
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar;
  • 3 tsp sugar;
  • 6 large aubergines, sliced lengthways as thinly as you can;
  • 100g Parmesan or vegetarian parmesan-style cheese, finely grated;
  • 85g white breadcrumb;
  • 50g pine nuts;
  • 2 x 125g balls vegetarian mozzarella cheese, torn into small chunks;
  • handful basil leaves.

For the salad:

  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped;
  • 50g green olive, finely chopped;
  • 2 tbsp olive oil;
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar;
  • 2 tsp golden caster sugar;
  • 6 big handfuls mixed green salad leaves.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan (or wide saucepan), add the garlic, thyme and sage, and cook gently for a few mins. Tip in the tomatoes, vinegar and sugar, and gently simmer for 20-25 mins until thickened a little.

Meanwhile, heat a griddle (or frying) pan. Brush the aubergine slices on both sides with olive oil, then griddle in batches. You want each slice softened and slightly charred, so don’t have the heat too high or the aubergine will char before softening. Remove to a plate as you go.

In a large baking dish, spread a little of the tomato sauce over the base. Mix 25g of the Parmesan with the breadcrumbs and pine nuts, and set aside. Top the sauce with a layer or two of aubergine slices, then season well. Spoon over a bit more sauce, then scatter over some mozzarella, Parmesan and basil leaves. Repeat, layering up – and finish with the last of the tomato sauce. Scatter over the cheesy breadcrumbs and chill for up to 24 hrs, or bake straight away.

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Bake for 30-40 mins until the top is crisp and golden, and the tomato sauce bubbling. Rest for 10 mins.

Meanwhile, make the salad. Whisk the olive oil, vinegar and sugar, then stir in the chopped olives and onion. Season. Tip the leaves into a bowl. Drizzle the olive dressing over and toss gently to coat.

Scatter the Parmigiana with basil leaves and serve with the salad and focaccia.

Original recipes from BBC Good Food issue May 2013. Melanzane Parmigiana available online here and green salad, here.

Previously posted on Food Notes on this date – May 28th

== 2018 ==
* Golden Layer Cake with Buttercup Icing :