The aubergine season has started and we are certainly spoilt for choice here in Italy. Melanzane, as aubergine is called in Italian, comes in different shapes, colours and sizes. It is certainly too hot to eat the traditional Parmigiana now. The famous recipe goes back to the 18th century, however, it is still argued whether it was invented in Napoli or Sicily. Parmigiana calls for sliced aubergine, good juicy tomatoes and mozzarella (sometimes it is made with Parmesan instead) that are arranged in layers and baked in oven.
I decided to adapt the traditional recipe to the sunny weather and made a cold Parmigiana, which turned out to be a success with my guests and family.
4 medium aubergines
3 large beef tomatoes
15-20 ripe cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 mozzarella, around 130g each (mozzarella di buffalo is the best for this recipe), sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 small fresh chili pepper, finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh herbs (thyme, oregano), chopped
A few leaves of basil
7 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Trim the stalks and ends of the aubergines and slice them into 1cm thick round slices. Chargrill them on a griddle pan till they have lovely dark marks, then pile them up in a frying pan with 4 tbsp of oil (you can use more generous amounts for a more authentic result). Fry them for about 15-20 minutes until they are soft. Cool them on a plate.
In the meantime, put the cherry tomatoes, one chopped beef tomato, garlic, chili pepper and herbs in a frying pan and cook them for 20-25 minutes until the juices are reduced and the sauce becomes thicker. Put it aside to cool slightly.
Start assembling little stacks by alternating slices of aubergine, mozzarella and beef tomatoes. Finish with a slice of aubergine and top it up with the sauce and chopped herbs. Drizzle with oil, season to taste and serve with a salad.