Maria Zafar

Written by

February 5, 2020


Conscious about the negative impact that meat production has on the planet., I’ve cut meat from my diet. The thing is, eating meat contributes to climate change, due to greenhouse gasses emitted by livestock. So in an effort to do my bit to look after the world, I’m now fully vegetarian. I’m trying out all sorts of new vegetarian recipes and  been reaching out to friends and family for new cooking ideas.

One of my good friends is half Italian, and as I’m partial to Italian food, I was curious to see what tasty recipes she could share. This one looked particularly yummy – Melanzane alla Parmigiana (aubergine parmigiana bake).

This recipe was handed down to her by her mother and second cousin. It’s the version using fried egg-battered aubergines (they can be grilled in the healthier version, but this sounds tastier!). Her mother (unlike her cousin) rather untraditionally would also add potato, as this is what her own mum taught her. Whilst this tastes good, it is not traditional – so it’s your choice whether you choose to add it or not!

Whilst not complicated, this dish does take a bit of time to prepare and cook, so it’s a great dish for a family get together or for having guests over – it’s also great re-heated so worth the time and effort. I hope you like it. Buon appetito! Enjoy!

P.S. The measurements are rough estimations – you will “feel it” as you go along!

Level: Easy /medium

Serves: 4 people (or six if having a small portion)

Total time (preparation and cooking): around 2-3 hours

Ingredients:

Whole aubergines x 3

Carrots x 3

Celery x 2 sticks

Onion x 2

Garlic (a few cloves – depending on your style)

Tinned plum tomatoes x 2 cans (whole – not chopped!)

Tomato passata (half a carton)

Tomato purée

500 g potatoes (optional – use less aubergine if you’re using potato)

Parmesan cheese (if you want this meal to be completely vegetarian, then buy a block of an Italian “hard cheese” vegetarian alternative, because pure Parmesan contains animal rennett)

Eggs (free-range!)

Plain flour (a few cups, as needed)

Olive oil (good quality, quantity as needed)

Salt

Black pepper

Fresh mozzarella cheese (optional) x 1 bag

Kitchen roll

Large oven dish

Method:

1. Prepare your aubergines: Wash your aubergines and cut them in medium-thick, long slices – not too thin or thick! Put to the side to use later.

2. Prepare your tomatoes

Blog_images_18

In order to get a smooth sauce, do not use pre-chopped tomatoes. It is best to chop your own. Simply take the tomatoes (without the juice) out of the tin and place in a bowl. Chop using a knife and fork, repeating till there are no (real) lumps. When finished, add the juice from the tin to the tomatoes.

3. Prepare your “soffrito” sauce base:

  • Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic. The amount of garlic will depend on your own personal taste but the dish shouldn’t taste too garlicky. I suggest 1-2 cloves.
  • Wash and finely chop the celery and carrot (peeled) into teeny cubes – again this is just enough for a base so use sparingly.
  • Prepare a frying pan with olive oil (not too much – this is simply a base to be able to cook the vegetables) and heat the pan.
  • Lightly fry the onion (not browning) then add the carrot and celery and fry till soft but not brown.

4. Prepare the potatoes:

If you want to add potatoes, simply peel and cut the potatoes into thin flat slices and par-boil in a pan, then drain.

5. Make your tomato sauce:

  • Add the chopped tomatoes to the soffrito vegetable base.
  • To ensure a non-watery (but not too thick!) texture, add a squirt of tomato purée and some passata.
  • Add salt and black pepper (not too much pepper!) to season.
  • Leave to cook on a low heat, simmering to finish.
  • Once cooked, leave on the side. You will use this later.

6. Cook the aubergines:

  • Set up an assembly line with one large plate of flour, one small bowl containing a fully-whipped egg and one large plate covered with kitchen roll.
  • Add a large quantity of olive oil (enough to fry) to a large frying pan.
  • When the oil is heated, start the aubergine-frying process – slice by slice:
    • Coat your aubergine slice with flour (ensuring that it is fully covered, but not too thickly coated).
    • Dip the flour-coated aubergine slice in the egg and coat it fully, covering all of the flour.
    • Add the slice to the frying pan.
    • Fry the aubergine and repeat with further slices.
    • When the aubergine slices are beigey in colour (cooked but not overly brown!), place on the plate with the kitchen roll to drain off the excess oil.
    • Repeat till each aubergine slice has been egg-battered and cooked.

Replenish your plates with fresh flour, egg and kitchen roll and add fresh olive oil to the pan as required.

7. Bake your aubergines:

  • Heat the oven to 180◦C.
  • Prepare the oven dish bake by layering the ingredients as follows:
    • Tomato sauce base
    • Aubergine slices
    • Tomato sauce
    • Optional: add a layer of potato slices (if using) – if not, simply add further aubergine slices
    • More tomato sauce
    • When you have finished, top with grated parmesan cheese (covering the bake fully)
    • Optional: you can also add mozzarella (sliced or grated) in between the layers of tomato sauce and potatoes/aubergine and on top.
  • Leave to cook: Place in the oven and cook until golden brown on top and sauce is bubbling. Estimated time is about one hour.
  • Once ready: serve and eat!

Serving suggestion:

Serve with a side salad (comprised of salad leaves, tomatoes, grated carrot, olives and cucumber), dressed with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic or white wine vinegar, salt and black pepper.

If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, keep an eye out for more here on the blog. We’ll be featuring a monthly meat-free recipe as part of our campaign to stem the tide of climate change.

In the mean time, you can help fight the effects of climate change by writing to your MP to call on the UK government to keep climate change on the agenda. Simply click here to fill in our simple, easy-to-use form and take action today!   

© Copyrights 2020 Islamic Relief Worldwide, Inc. All rights reserved. Registered Charity No. 328158

Quick Donate