Sorry about the punny title: this is my take on a classic Italian recipe called parmigiana, an oven dish with layered aubergines. (Yes, I am rather partial to aubergines, and they are the only vegetables that I feel have to be cooked – in a rich sauce – until they are totally mushy.) Unlike the traditional version, which at least in some recipes adds a layer of béchamel sauce, and also, in at least one instance a thin layer of ham, this one is really just vegetables and one can even leave out the grated cheese on top if this needs to be vegan.
· 4 medium-sized aubergines cut into thin slices
· seasalt for rubbing the aubergines
· 1 tblsp tandoori masala (more if you like a hot dish)
· 2 good-sized onions, finely chopped
· 2 – 5 cloves of garlic in thin slices
· 1 tblsp cinnamon powder
· 2 veggie stock cubes, crumbled
· 150 ml red wine or Marsala
· 500 ml of passata or chopped tomatoes
· 2 tblsp honey
· 2 tblsp vine vinegar
· olive oil for frying
· generous grated cheese (I like pecorino romano possibly with the same amount of parmesan added)
What you do
1. Cut the aubergines length-wise into thin slices, salt the cut generously with sea salt and leave to sit for 60 minutes. In the meantime prepare the sauce:
2. Sauté the onions and the garlic, add the tandoori and keep stirring until the onions are soft, add the stock cubes and cinnamon, then the wine or Marsala.
3. Stir in the passata, add the vinegar and the honey. Leave to simmer on a small flame. Make sure the mixture is not salty.
4. Rinse the aubergines well and pat them dry, then fry them in olive oil in single layers until they are golden brown. Some say one should remove olive oil after the frying but I think that would be waste of good olive oil.
5. Place the aubergines and the sauce in layers in an ovenproof dish. At the end you may want to deglaze the frying pan with a bit of wine, which can be added to the liquid
6. Cover generously with the grated cheese and bake at 175° for at least 30 minutes or until crispy brown on top, then reduce the heat to 120° (perhaps cover with silver foil) for another 10 to 15 minutes.