Aubergine Parmigiano

Oh what, what to do when you've got a dinner party for 5 and one of them is a blasted vegetarian? The answer is Aubergine Parmigiano, which you can give to veggies and non-veggies alike. Mozzarella, being a bit of a meaty cheese, is a marvellous substitute for carnivores - no-one will notice it's meat-free - and it has the summery tang of a lasagne, without being stuffed full of pasta.

A thing to beware with this recipe is that you must salt your aubergines properly before use  - even though it's a bit of a hassle - or they will leak water like mad when they are cooking and you will get a horrible watery sludge at the bottom of your pan - yuk.

To salt aubergines, cut them into rounds or into strips, about 1cm thick and lay out flat. Salt both sides and then lay chopping boards over the top and press down with something very heavy, like a couple of big cookbooks. Leave for 30 mins and then rinse off the salt and any leaked water - then they are ready to use.

For 4 people you will need:

3 aubergines
400g mozzarella
1 jar passata (or just make your own with chopped tomatoes fried with onions and garlic)
bunch of basil
salt and pepper
approx 80g parmesan, flaked
oil for cooking - prob best to use groundnut oil so it can get v hot without burning

1 Switch oven on to 180C. Cook your salted aubergine slices in oil until golden-ish and leave to drain on kitchen roll (aubergines really drink oil, so make sure to have a lot on standby).

2 In a large gratin dish or casserole, start layering up your ingredients like a lasagne; one layer aubergine, then mozarella, then basil, salt & pepper, tomatoes and parmesan flakes. Do this until you've run out of stuff. Finish off the top with mozarella so that it goes brown and bubbly in the oven. Bake for 1 hour

This reheats very well, so make more than you need and if it doesn't get eaten shove it in the oven for later.

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