Anne Else's Eggplant Parmigiana
This is my lighter version of Claudia Roden's recipe from The Food of Italy. Even though it's grilled instead of fried, the eggplant still seems to melt into the tomato and cheese. To keep it lighter still, grill the eggplant slices without oil and instead of mozzarella, use cottage cheese. Very good reheated, too.
Serves 2, but can easily be upsized.
1 large eggplant or 2 medium ones
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tin crushed Italian tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
small bunch basil or mint leaves, chopped
200-250g mozzarella cheese, diced, or 250g plain cottage cheese
4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 180C (fan-forced if available).
Slice the eggplants lengthwise, giving slices approximately½cm thick. Place slices in a large shallow dish, sprinkle with salt and leave for half an hour.
Rinse and drain the slices, dry, brush lightly with olive oil, spread over grill rack and grill on each side until lightly browned. Drain on absorbent paper. (For a lighter version, grill them without the oil.)
In a wide shallow frying pan, fry garlic gently in a little olive oil until the aroma rises. Add tin of tomatoes, sugar, a little salt and pepper, and basil or mint. Cook vigorously to reduce.
Brush shallow, oven-proof, ceramic dish with a little olive oil. Arrange slices of eggplant to cover the bottom, overlapping a little.
Cover with the tomato sauce, spread over the diced mozzarella or cottage cheese, and top with grated parmesan.
Bake for about 30 minutes.
A cheerful extract mentioning the eggplant dish, from the last chapter of The Colour of Food, about learning to live and eat alone after my husband, Harvey McQueen, died on Christmas Day 2010:
With only myself to feed, every so often I can lash out on the luxury versions of fast food. A small fillet of pork, beef or salmon, a slim little rack of lamb, a handful of plump scallops, a gleaming creamy-white sole.
But humbler things can be equally good: spaghetti carbonara with garlic, bacon, eggs and parmesan; a basic Thai curry, red or green, chicken or prawn, with extra vegetables that don't appear in the genuine version - sliced onions or shallots, corn kernels, diced peppers; eggplant parmigiana, the fleshy slices melting into the garlicky, cheese-topped tomato sauce; a classic Caesar salad made with my own cos leaves; or a salade composée with good blue cheese, a sliced apple or pear and Waikanae friends' walnuts strewn over my own rocket or my new green and purple lettuce, 'Drunken Woman Fringed Head'.