I’ve been embracing extra virgin olive oil these past few weeks while I continue to fall in love with authentic Italian food. And one that is absolutely incredible is this Melanzane Parmigiana! (Mel-an-zar-nie Parmigiana just in case anyone’s wondering).
It’s been so long since I’ve cooked with straight oils too, that I really fancied a luxurious treat where I could taste truly taste the difference.
And of course, recently finding out that my great (x4) grandfather (elusive, as he is), was Italian, has given me lots of fun and fanciful questions, like, “I wonder if John George Felice used to eat this meal?”
So when I was invited to the Bellavita Academy and Shop in London for a cooking session in May, I was rather nervous, but also extremely excited.
If you’re in London, it’s definitely worth a visit to pick up some authentic Italian foods which are perfect for a romantic date night meal or a celebratory feast. Live a little, I say!
But, if you’re not in the area, they do also offer a delivery service ranging from extra virgin olive oils, cheeses, the plumpest garlic and aubergines I’ve ever seen and a vast selection of wine.
I really think this meal is simplicity at its best. The tomato sauce is rich and intense and the dish itself is beautifully built up with luscious layers of thinly sliced aubergines and a heavenly crumbly topping.
What’s not to like? Even my little pooch wouldn’t leave me alone while I ate it (but so far we’ve found he does favour cheese over meat).
It’s also a great family feast that should be a regular in everyone’s house!
But if you’re wanting to ensure it is more lean but still keep its authenticity, then here’s a few options you could do:
- Mix the olive oil with water and use a spray bottle, as I often do.
- Use wholemeal breadcrumbs
- Use sweetener instead of sugar
Authentic Amazing Melanzane Parmigiana
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 8 large sage leaves
- 2 690ml jars Italian passata
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp caster sugar (or sweetener)
- 4 very large aubergines thinly sliced, lengthways
- 100 g Parmigiano Reggiano grated
- 120 g breadcrumbs (from wholemeal bread is healthier)
- 50 g pine nuts
- 250 g Buffalo mozzarella torn up in to chunks
- Bunch fresh basil leaves
- In a deep based pan, heat up the oil and gently saute the garlic, thyme and sage for around 5 minutes.
- Now add the passata, balsamic vinegar and sugar (or sweetener) and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While you wait, coat each slice of aubergine with oil (or oil spray) and gently grill both sides in a griddle or frying pan until softened and set aside until all the aubergines are cooked.
- Preheat your oven at 200c (or gas mark 6) and in a large mixing bowl, mix together 25g of the parmigiano reggiano, all the breadcrumbs and pine nuts and leave to one side.
- Then using a large deep baking dish, spoon some of the tomato sauce and spread around as a base.
- Now create a layer of aubergine slices and season before spooning over more sauce.
- Sprinkle a few pinches of mozzarella here and there with some parmigiana and basil leaves and repeat the layers, finishing with tomato sauce at the top.
- Finally sprinkle over the breadcrumbs you mixed earlier and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes and garnish with more basil. Buon appetito!
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This post was sponsored by Bellavita. All opinions are my own & I absolutely love Italian food!