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Aubergine's parmigiana in the pan

Ciao! How are you guys?

The recipe of the week is a quicker and easier version of my absolute favourite dish from the Italian tradition: aubergine's parmigiana.

The classic version would take me loads and I am not as desperate right now. Despite the lockdown, I have still stuff to do (having 100 hobbies and being a bit nerdy has it's benefits) and under no circumstances, no matter how love cooking, I will spend hours my day frying aubergines, plus the smell will stay in the house for days. Details that matters to me. My grandma would have shake her head in despair seeing how our generation is so into cutting time to do anything. I know I should relax more, especially now that I can, but somehow it still feels like I need to be efficient and organise myself to be as productive as possible even if there is no reason be feel like this at the moment. I guess I am just trying to make the most of the time off I have got before we come back to reality. I also reckon I am afraid of let myself go completely to the slow life for the fear to not being able to go back to the fast rhythm of my regular life once all this situation will be over.

I am digressing as per usual!

The thing is also that the original recipe is made with fried aubergines, (and someone includes ham in the layers as well) which obviously increase the calories of the dish up to the sky reaching God himself.

It's bomb. So, even if I love it, since I am not as active as I was before, I believe that I should make due and be happy with the lighter version of it, which by the way, is super yummy too.

The revolutionary thing is not that I am grilling the aubergines, as it might look like from all the faff I wrote so far. The best part of this recipe is that instead of using the oven, you can toss everything in a pan and it will take only 15 minutes to cook!

You might think: So what?!

Well, when you grill stuff in the oven you have to pre heat it, you are consuming far more energy than using the stove (the gas one at least) which is not eco friendly for the environment, it costs more on the electricity bill and it usually takes longer. Plus you need to check every now and then that is not burning.

At the end of the day I always prefer to cook on the stove and I use the oven only when I really need to, such as baking pizza, cakes or roasts in general.

The annoying part is grilling the aubergines. I am using my normal round pan to show that it is possible to do it without the grill but it will obviously take a bit more because I can't fit all the slices in one go so I will grill them in batches.

To shorten the time even more, I recommend a big stove grill pan like the one below.

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This amazing cast iron grill pan is huge and you won't need ages to grill all the aubergine's slices as it will take the space of 2 hobs. It doesn't requires oil, which is a bonus and it doesn't make smoke (so you won't need a lid). The ridged base allows fat to drain away if you are cooking meat such as steaks. It is great to make restaurant style food in minutes whilst maintaining an important healthy aspect to your cooking. It is suitable for all hobs including induction hobs and oven use. Worried about the maintenance? Don't fret, you don't need to put it in the dishwasher as it is easy to wipe clean.

I have a round one which I am super happy with and I am using it very often for all sorts of recipes but I really want to treat myself with a big rectangular one like this for the summer. It is an excellent alternative to the outdoor grill if you don't have a garden!

Ingredients for 2:

-4 medium aubergines (if they are big 3 should be enough)

-2 mozzerelle

-2 cloves of garlic

-fresh basil (or in alternative some dry oregano)

-tomato passata

-salt

-chilli flakes

-Parmesan cheese

-Start with the aubergines first. Using a large chef’s knife, cut off the green stalk with a sharp knife and discard. Then, cut them into round, even slices, making sure they are not too thin otherwise they will burn easily while grilling them. The reason for not doing it lengthwise is because they won't fit properly in a round pan. That sort of longer slices in perfect of trays and for the oven version.

-Place the rings in a pan and grill them until golden (it should take around 8 minutes per batch if you are using a normal pan)

-Prepare your tomato sauce: the homemade one would be preferable, if not, simply open a tomato passata bottle and pour half of it in a bowl. Season it with fresh chopped garlic, basil leaves (or oregano), olive oil, salt and chilli flakes.

-In another pan drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and pour a generous tablespoon of tomato sauce for the first layer: then add the grilled aubergines and some mozzarella slices and grate some parmesan cheese on top.

-Repeat the process until you finish all the ingredients: you should have 4 layers in total (it depends how big the aubergines are, though). Finish with an extra generous layer of parmesan cheese and let it cook covered with the lid for 10 minutes.

-After the 10 minutes, let it cook for another 5 without the lid in order to let the excess of water to evaporate.

These last few minutes really make all the difference: the first layer should form a yummy, slightly burned crust made of tomato passata and melted cheese which is truly delicious and for me it is the best part!

The result should be more or less like above! It looks a bit messy, you know by now that my presentations are not super eye pleasing but I swear the taste is divine!

Serve hot while the mozzarella is still stringy which reminds me that this is a great alternative to pizza as it is gluten free!

Other motives to make it:

-it is suitable for vegetarians

-it has very low carbs so it would be suitable for paleo diets.

Do you need more excuses to try it??

-Sound on to drool!!!! :)

Enjoy with a glass of great red wine!

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Check out also another of my recipe with aubergines: