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Melanzane parmigiana

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing Olive oil ol-iv oylProbably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 thyme sprigs ThymeThis popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…
  • 8 large sage leaves, finely chopped Sage sa-agePopular in both Italian and British cookery, sage has long, grey-green leaves with a slightly…
  • 4 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp golden caster or granulated sugar
  • 6 large aubergines, sliced lengthways as thinly as you can Aubergine oh-ber-geenAlthough it's technically a fruit (a berry, to be exact), the aubergine is used as a…
  • 100g vegetarian parmesan-style cheese, finely grated
  • 85g white breadcrumb
  • 50g pine nut
  • 2 x 125g balls vegetarian mozzarella cheese, torn into small chunks
  • handful basil leaves
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan (or wide saucepan), add the garlic, thyme and sage, and cook gently for a few mins. Tip in the tomatoes, vinegar and sugar, and gently simmer for 20-25 mins until thickened a little.
  • Meanwhile, heat a griddle (or frying) pan. Brush the aubergine slices on both sides with olive oil, then griddle in batches. You want each slice softened and slightly charred, so don’t have the heat too high or the aubergine will char before softening. Remove to a plate as you go.
  • In a large baking dish, spread a little of the tomato sauce over the base. Mix 25g of the Parmesan with the breadcrumbs and pine nuts, and set aside. Top the sauce with a layer or two of aubergine slices, then season well. Spoon over a bit more sauce, then scatter over some mozzarella, Parmesan and basil leaves. Repeat, layering up – and finish with the last of the tomato sauce. Scatter over the cheesy breadcrumbs and chill for up to 24 hrs, or bake straight away.
  • Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Bake for 30-40 mins until the top is crisp and golden, and the tomato sauce bubbling. Rest for 10 mins, then scatter with basil leaves and serve with salad and focaccia (see 'goes well with').