This dish is basically a layered bake with griddled aubergines, Parmesan, a quick home-made tomato sauce, and finally topped with breadcrumbs and some Mozzarella. It’s quick to make, easy to assemble, and rates very high on the yumminess quotient. Check and check.
Lay out the sliced aubergines on a tray and season with salt and pepper. Let sit for 5 minutes for the salt to draw out the excess moisture from them.
If using fresh tomatoes, prick the tops slightly with a knife and blanch them in boiling water until their skins start to peel off, about 5 – 7 minutes. Run them under cold water, and peel back their skins completely. Blitz to a coarse purée in a blender and set aside. *If using canned, just blend coarsely and use.
Heat a griddle pan / regular pan until really hot and pour a small glug of olive oil. Lay out the aubergines in a single layer and fry until coloured and tender on both sides. (Make sure not to overcrowd the pan and the surface area touches the pan directly; for this, you may need it do it in two or more batches). Remove and set aside.
Add 2 tbsp of Olive oil to another pan and add in the chopped onions and garlic. Once browned, pour in the tomato purée and season with salt, pepper, oregano, chilli flakes, and sugar. Let it come to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes with a lid on, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened slightly. Stir in the torn basil.
To assemble the dish : First pour a quarter of the tomato sauce at the bottom and top with one layer of aubergines. Sprinkle on some of the grated Parmesan and repeat with the tomato sauce, until you’ve used up all your elements. I got 3 layers in a 10″ x 6.5″ dish.
Leave the top-most layer that of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle on the bread crumbs and then the grated Mozzarella. Bake in a pre-heated 180 C / 360 F oven for 30 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese melted. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve immediately with big chunks of crusty bread to mop up all the sauce.