This Italian restaurant classic is a little time-consuming (the grilled eggplant takes a while) but your guests will tell you that it is well worth all the effort.
- 2 large aubergines/eggplant
- 1 kg/2 lb ripe tomatoes (or good bottled or canned crushed tomatoes)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
- 200g/7 oz mozzarella, ripped into small pieces
- 60 g/2 oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Sprig of basil, leaves only
- Slice the aubergines lengthways into thin (2 mm) slices.
- Sprinkle them lightly with salt and leave between two tea towels (dishtowels) for an hour, weighed down with some plates. Any bitter residue should seep out into the cloths.
- Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil and grill for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside. You will be making several such batches, which will take time to grill!
- Plunge the tomatoes into a pan of just-boiled water (switch off the heat) and leave for a couple of minutes. You should then be able to remove the skins easily.
- Chop the tomato into small pieces.
- Make a sauce by stir-frying the garlic in a little oil and cooking with the tomato for 10 minutes. You can either use a garlic press to press the garlic back into the sauce, or discard it.
- In an ovenproof dish, place alternating layers of aubergine slices and tomato sauce. In the last layer and on the top, add the cheeses.
- Bake in a moderate oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese on the top is golden brown. 5 minutes before the cooking time is finished, sprinkle the torn basil leaves on top.
If you are pressed for time, you can skip step 2. Modern aubergine varieties have little bitterness. If you do skip this step, remember to add salt to the aubergines as you grill them.