We had a run of oddly cool days last week and somehow this made sense of cooking up some eggplant parmigiana in a season that’s nowhere near winter.  It also helped that I had an afternoon that I’d put aside to do some quiet work at home, which turned out to be an ideal time to keep an eye on some slow-baking eggplant slices and a pot of tomato sauce.

For a comforting eggplant bake, with some (apparently) Sicilian touches according to Stephanie Alexander, give this one a go.  I think for authenticity the appropriate cheese would likely be some fresh mozzarella or provolone: I’d certainly use them if I had some around, but if you only have bog-standard cheddar in the fridge like I did, it will still make a pretty tasty dinner.


Eggplant Parmigiana
Inspired by Stephanie Alexander

2 medium eggplant, cut into 1cm round slices
2 tbsp olive oil
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 extra roma tomatoes, chopped roughly
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp each of pinenuts and currants
2/3 cup grated cheese of choice (I used mostly cheddar and a bit of parmesan)

Lay out the eggplant slices on baking paper, on a large oven tray.  Brush well with the olive oil on both sides, and bake for 45-60 minutes at 180C, turning once.  If the eggplant looks a bit dry when you turn them, brush with a little extra oil.  It just doesn’t pay to skimp too much here when you’re dealing with oil-thirsty eggplant – just think, the oven-bake method is still healthier than the traditional pan-frying method.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan put in the can of tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, garlic, sugar and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to simmering point, and simmer away for about 20-30 minutes, until the sauce is thickened slightly.  Taste for seasoning.

When the eggplant and tomato sauce is ready, you can assemble the final dish.   In a baking dish, spread out a couple of spoonfuls of tomato sauce, then put down about half the eggplant slices into a nice even layer.  Scatter over 1 tbsp each of pinenuts and currants, then 1/3 cup of the cheese, then half of the remaining sauce.  Repeat with a layer of eggplant, pinenuts and currants and the rest of the tomato sauce, and finally top with the rest of the cheese.

Bake for about 30 minues at 180C until bubbling and golden.

Yield: serves 2-3