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I have just discovered that two of my old-time friends, who are coming over for Thanksgiving dinner, have turned vegetarian, thus I am going to cook something “extra” not only as side dish to the classic turkey but to also feed them. After all I am thankful we’re getting together. What’s best than this classic northern Italian recipe. By layering aubergines with Parmesan, mozzarella cheese and tomatoes and then baking them you get an absolutely moreish, scrumptious vegetable dish.

  • 3 large aubergines
  • e.v.o. oil
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 heaped tsp dried oregano (plus more for sprinkling)
  • 500g tomato purée
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • a little apple vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 x 120g mozzarella cheese

Remove the stalks from the aubergines, slice them up into 1/2 cm thick slices, and set aside. Get a grilling cast-iron pan really hot. Meanwhile, put 2 Tbsp of oil into a large pan on a medium heat. Add the green onions, finely chopped, garlic, peeled and sliced  and cook for 10 minutes, until the onion is soft and the garlic has a tiny bit of colour.  Add the tinned tomatoes to the onion, garlic, add the tomato paste and the oregano. Give the mixture a good stir, then put a lid on the pan and simmer slowly for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, grill the aubergines on both sides until lightly charred do them in batches, as they probably won’t all fit into your griddle pan in one go. When the tomato sauce is reduced and sweet, season it carefully with salt, pepper and a tiny swig of apple vinegar, and add the basil. Turn off heat.

Get an earthenware type dish. Put in a small layer of tomato sauce, sprinkle some breadcrumbs  then a single layer of aubergines and a thin scattering of Parmesan and a good amount of chopped mozzarella cheese. Repeat these layers until you’ve used all the ingredients up, finishing with a little sauce and another good sprinkling of Parmesan, oregano, mozzarella and breadcrumbs.

Place the dish in the oven and bake at 190°C (375°F) for half an hour until golden, crisp and bubbly. It’s good eaten straight away, but cold, the day after is oh so yummy.

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