I’m giving up meat for Lent. That’s what my 13 year old self-said a few decades ago to my mum!! She flawlessly countered this by offering me the keys to the kitchen.
Being a parent now, and knowing all about phases, I’m sure my mum thought I’d be back to normal carnivore duties in 6 days let alone last 6 weeks meat free! But through growing pains, exams, crushes, Uni and a semester in France, this ‘phase’ lasted 7 years! A summer working in the USA and discovering Big Macs, was the only thing to pull me out of that one!
These days, I can appreciate both. I do enjoy free-range or local meat from my butcher where I can be assured that animal welfare is taken seriously; Equally, I do love vegetarian from all over the world. The choice for vegetarians is far more exciting than the nut roast and veggie burgers of yore. And to quote my husband you don’t even miss the meat in this dish. Nuff said!
This recipe became a favourite last year when aubergines were on sale at our local veg shop 2 for £1, and it seemed too good to not make something awesome with them. After doing the recipe on and off for 6 months (or more!) I certainly refined it to be fuss-free.
The great thing about this recipe is not only it vegetarian, but also gluten-free. It’s basically like an aubergine lasagna. Funnily enough in the last week talk of aubergine parmigiana cropped up in 3 separate conversations, so I kinda felt the universe was asking me to share!
As with some of my fuss-free recipes, the fuss can be taken away by preparation. Having this dish in mind and the ingredients ready in the fridge will mean you can crack on with the easy tomato sauce, or frying the aubergines, whilst you are hanging out in the kitchen doing something else. Then the whole business of making the parmigiana becomes more of an assembly job just like last weeks Lasagne.
I loved seeing how many of you were cooking lasagne last week in the Fuss Free Foodie Facebook group, so let me know what you think of this one too! If you want to see what I get up to for the rest of the week pop over to the Fuss Free Foodie page and give a little like there. See my fuss-free life in pictures on Instagram or what I’m tweeting on Twitter. Don’t forget to keep seeing FFF in your feed, keep giving a little like, comment or share! Thanks for being here! Lisa x
Oven 180℃/350℉/Gas mark 4
For the sauce:
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
Few sprigs of thyme or 1-2 tsp of dried herbs
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
For the Parmigiana:
4 aubergines, sliced length way, 1/2cm thick
2 balls of mozzarella (125g each)
100g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- Place the oil in the pan on a low heat and gently fry the garlic for a few minutes, without colouring.
- Add the passata to the pan, season with salt and pepper and add the herbs. Simmer on medium heat for about 45mins to 1 hour, until reduced to a thick sauce. Set aside.
- Frying the aubergines. I use two frying pans at the same time to get the job done quickly. If you feel like you are adding loads of oil, don’t worry, as aubergines are like little sponges, and it’s important to have the aubergines more soggy and unctuous, than spongy and dry! I fry them, get a bit of colour on each side, and then pop them under the grill to brown a little more and crack on with the next batch. See my sunny whether alternative below!
- Assembly. Get all your ingredients in place and as a guide, I did 4 layers with mozzarella on. Place 2 spoonfuls*1 of sauce on the bottom of the dish and spread it out. Layer 4-5 slices of aubergine on top to create your first layer.
- Put 2 more spoonfuls of sauce onto the aubergines and spread out. Break up around 60g (half of 1 ball) into chunks and place on the sauce, and then sprinkle around 10g of Parmesan on top.
- Repeat the process until you are left with a final layer of aubergines. It is better to have a complete covering of aubergines for the top layer, so if you feel like you are running for this, use fewer in one of the middle layers (like I did!).
- When you have your aubergines on top, pour on the rest of the tomato sauce to make a thick final layer and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese to complete.
- Cook in the oven for 1 hr. If you feel the top is browning too quickly, pop a piece of tin foil on top and take it off 10 minutes from the end. The parmigiana will benefit from resting for 15 minutes after it comes out of the oven….as will the roof of your mouth! Is great reheated the next day (or cold) in fact sometimes even nicer!
- Serve with a sourdough loaf.
Forget the Fuss…
If you have the weather, the quickest way to do them all in one go is to BBQ them! Don’t be shy and rub them with oil first.
If your bread isn’t fresh, I make breadcrumbs and make a final layer out of the crumbs instead (without sauce on top) and sprinkle with Parmesan
*1 I use a serving spoon which is probably the equivalent of 2 tbsp.