Classic Italian cuisine at its finest!

This dish is a vegetarian alternative to the classic lasagne and uses aubergines instead of pasta.

You can add in pretty much anything you want to this dish, chicken, bacon or maybe even pork if you wanted a meat-fix!

This has become one of our favourite dishes and often appears on our kitchen menu board.

We went to Venice last year and fell in love with the place and the food too. Everything about Italian cooking screams depth of flavour and this dish certainly ticks the boxes.  The flavoursome sauce can be cooked ahead to save on time, especially if you’re cooking this for a dinner party.

Ingredients

  • 1 large aubergine
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 100g grated Parmesan (or any other hard Italian cheese)
  • 300g grated Mozzarella
  • 1 clove garlic – crushed
  • 1 tbs tomato puree
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Method

Slice the aubergine lengthways. Slice as thinly as you can, approximately 5mm will be great. Grab a plate and lay down some kitchen paper and then place a layer of aubergine slices. Sprinkle with salt and then lay another sheet of kitchen paper and repeat.

For the final layer, place a sheet or two of kitchen paper and place a heavy pan on top. Leave for 30 minutes or so and the moisture (and bitterness) will be drawn out.

Heat the oil in a pan and add in the chopped onion and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened.

Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add in the remaining ingredients (not the aubergine though!) and cook on simmer for 20 – 30 minutes. You’re looking for a sauce with a thickness similar to ketchup!

Once cooked, leave to one side.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (170 for fan-assisted)

Next, on to the aubergines.

Heat up a large frying pan and keep the heat high. Rub olive oil onto a few of the aubergine slices and place into the pan. As the heat is so high they won’t take long to colour but be careful as they can burn very quickly. Flip them over and prepare the next batch. Depending on the size of your pan you may be able to get 4 slices in at any one time.

Continue the process until all slices are cooked.

Grab an oven proof dish (this recipe will fit an 8″ x 4″ dish).

Pour a couple of tablespoons of the sauce into the bottom of the dish and spread. Layer the aubergine over the sauce and sprinkle a generous handful of the Mozzarella and a small sprinkling of Parmesan.

Repeat this with alternating the sauce, aubergines and cheeses.

For the final layer, you just need sauce and the cheeses then pop right into the oven.

Cook for 40 – 50 minutes until golden and serve with salad or whatever you love to eat!