There's a little labour involved in frying the eggplant slices before layering them, but the result is worth it. The whole dish can be prepared ahead of time and popped into the oven at the last minute.
- 5 eggplant (1.8kg), sliced lengthways 6mm thick
- For shallow frying: olive oil
- For dusting: seasoned plain flour
- 200 gm finely grated parmesan, plus extra for dusting
- 2 cups basil leaves, stalks reserved for sugo, plus extra leaves to serve (loosely packed)
- To serve: bitter leaf salad
- 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil (¼ cup)
- 1 onion, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 600 gm vine-ripened tomatoes
- 400 gm canned chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp coarsely chopped oregano
- 1Place eggplant in a large bowl, add 2 tsp fine sea salt, toss to coat and set aside for liquid to drain (20 minutes).
- 2For sugo, heat oil in a frying pan over high heat, add onion and stir occasionally until starting to caramelise (3-5 minutes), then add garlic and stir until caramelised (1-2 minutes). Add fresh and canned tomato, oregano and reserved basil stalks, bring to the simmer, reduce heat to medium and stir occasionally until tender and thick (30-40 minutes). Remove stalks (discard), transfer to a blender, season to taste and blend until smooth.
- 3Heat olive oil to 3mm deep in a frying pan, dust eggplant slices with seasoned flour, shake off excess, then fry in batches, adding more oil as necessary, until golden (2-4 minutes). Drain on absorbent paper.
- 4Preheat oven to 180C. Spoon a little sugo into a 15cm x 25cm baking dish, top with a layer of eggplant, scatter with parmesan and basil, then repeat until all ingredients are used, finishing with a layer of sugo. Scatter with extra parmesan, bake until golden and bubbling (20-30 minutes), scatter with extra basil and serve with a bitter leaf salad.
This recipe is from the April 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
Drink Suggestion: Deeply fruity red barbera. Drink suggestion by Max Allen
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