On a scale from vegemite toast to fifteen-course lockdown degustation this recipe sits on the left-hand side of the how-hard-is-it scale. It’s easy-ish with a couple of simple steps, some simmering, some layering and lots of silky, tomato-y eggplant goodness. It’s excellent for a dinner party and even better the next day for lunch. It takes a little bit of time, but most of that time is spent waiting (aka sipping wine) for glorious things to happen. Enjoy the process, don’t drink too much before your friends arrive and be prepared to soak up allll the compliments (and sauce at the bottom of your plate).
2 large eggplants
2 tbsp salt
½ brown onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tins Mutti polpa (or crushed tomatoes)
Bunch of basil
500g mozzarella (the harder kind you use for pizza)
Slice the eggplant into rounds about 2cm thick. Sit them in a colander in the sink, sprinkle with the salt, toss and leave it for about 45 mins (this ensures the eggplant has a custardy not rubbery texture). Once time’s up rinse the salt off and pat dry with a clean tea towel.
Make a tomato sauce with 2 tbsp of olive oil and the chopped garlic in a saucepan on low. Once it starts to smell excellent add in the tomatoes and the onion (the whole piece as you’ll remove it later). Simmer it down and taste after 15 mins. Add a pinch of salt and/or sugar if it needs it.
Grab a large cast iron skillet (or something you can use on the stove and in the oven) and heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Once it’s quite hot add a few eggplant slices and fry till golden on each side. Continue this with all the eggplant.
Preheat the oven to 190c
In the same skillet add a ladle of tomato sauce, a layer of eggplant, a couple of slices of mozz, a little Parm and a couple of pieces of basil. Continue this till you’ve used all the eggplant and finish the top with a little extra cheese.
Bake in the oven for 45 mins so it’s golden and bubbling. Let it rest for 10 mins before serving or alternatively dive right in and get third-degree burns on the roof of your mouth.
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