Crispy baked aubergine, rich marinara sauce, and a gooey blend of mozzarella and Parmesan. Topped with fresh herbs, it’s a satisfying, comforting dish that’s as simple as it is delicious. Perfect on its own or paired with pasta—a timeless Italian classic that speaks for itself.
4 medium-sized aubergines, half peeled for a stripy effect (this helps them cook evenly)
3 free-range eggs, beaten
200g/7oz ‘00’ flour
100ml/3½oz sunflower oil
200g/7oz mozzarella, chopped
100g/3½oz Parmesan, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a hot, thick-based saucepan, add 3 tbsp olive oil and fry the garlic until it is soft but has no colour. Add half the basil leaves and cook for 30 seconds, then add the tomato passata and cook slowly until the sauce has reduced by half. Finish off with the remaining fresh basil leaves torn into pieces, along with some salt, pepper and the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil.
Meanwhile, slice the aubergines into 1cm/½in thick discs. Place some salt on top and leave for 20 mins to allow the salt to draw out the water, then pat with kitchen paper so the aubergines are dry.
Whisk the eggs really well so they are smooth and put the flour into a wide bowl. Dip each aubergine slice in the beaten egg mix so it is totally covered, then remove and place into the bowl of flour to coat before shaking off any excess.
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Add the sunflower oil to a hot frying pan – there should be enough oil so that the aubergines can fry evenly. (This may seem like a lot of oil but most of it will be drained off after cooking.) Fry the aubergines until golden, then turn over and cook until tender. The important thing is that the aubergines are cooked through and have a nice golden colour. Place the cooked aubergine onto some kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil.
Rub the inside of a large ovenproof baking dish with olive oil, then place a layer of cooked aubergines evenly across the base. Spoon one-third of the tomato sauce on top, sprinkle one-third of the chopped mozzarella then one-third of the grated Parmesan. Repeat this process again then finish with the last layer of cooked aubergine and the remaining passata, one-third of the mozzarella and Parmesan on top.
Bake for 35 minutes. The top should be a lovely golden colour and a crispy texture. If not, return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
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