Friday, 23 October 2009

Baked happiness

When it comes to comfort food, nothing beats a spicy, Italian style tomato sauce. If, like me, you always have tinned tomatoes, olive oil, chilli flakes and garlic in, you can have it whenever you want, whatever the weather. I could eat it by the spoonful, without accompaniment. Sometimes I like to have it with penne, topped with basil and parmesan. Other times it is the making of a sausage bake.

But one of my all time favourites is the baked aubergine parmigiana. Gorgeous smoky aubergines, chargrilled, combined with this most sumptuous of sauces and heavenly expanses of parmesan cheese. And topped with mozzarella crispy breadcrumbs. Could you get any more comforting?!

It's an incredibly simple dish to make. For 4 people, you'll need two tins of tomatoes, one onion, three aubergine, one packet of mozzarella, garlic, parmesan, breadcrumbs, wine vinegar and basil.

First, chop the aubergine into 1cm slices across the way. Heat up a griddle pan with a little oil and cook the aubergines in batches so they have nice chargrill marks.

Meanwhile, finely chop the garlic and onion and, with a teaspoon of chilli flakes, allow to sizzle for a while in olive oil. Add the two tins of chopped tomatoes and allow to cook, uncovered for about fifteen minutes. Put a little wine vinegar at the end and tear up some basil leaves and stir in.

Once the aubergines are all done and the sauce has thickened put a thin layer of tomato sauce across the bottom of a lasagne kinda dish, then a smattering of parmesan, followed by a single layer of aubergines. Repeat these layers until you’ve used all the ingredients up, finishing with a little sauce and then cover in grated mozzarella. Top this with a scattering of breadcrumbs and put in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Once it's nicely browned and crispy on top, take it out the oven, let it cool a little, and serve in nice big wedges with salad and garlic bread. Ah!

Belissima! So simple, so easy, so happy-making.

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