Growing up, aubergines were plentiful in summer in Italy, and a very popular vegetable in the south. We would slice them and simply grill or bake them, or we’d make the famous melanzane alla parmigiana – sliced and baked in a tomato sauce with mozzarella and parmesan. A nice way with them is to stuff and bake them, as in this recipe. It is delicious served with a salad for lunch or supper.’
extra-virgin olive oil 150ml,
plus extra for drizzling
onion 1 medium,
roughly chopped into small pieces
basil a handful,
roughly cut into cubes and crumbled
parmesan cheese grated to make 5 tbsp
provolone cheese 120g,
cut into very small cubes
cherry tomatoes 12,
dried breadcrumbs 2 tbsp
Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Cut the aubergines in half lengthways to give 8 halves. Take 6 halves and make an incision with a small sharp knife about ½ cm in around the edge, taking care not to tear the skin. Carefully remove the pulp with a spoon. You will be left with empty aubergine shells. Finely chop the pulp and set aside. Peel and discard the skin of the final 2 aubergines, finely chop the flesh, then add to the rest of the pulp.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and fry gently until softened. Add the aubergine pulp and cook over a medium heat for about 4 minutes, stirring all the time. You will notice how readily the aubergines will absorb the olive oil. If necessary, add a little more oil.
Add the tomatoes and basil, season well, and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring all the time, until you get a mushy consistency. Take off the heat and cool.
Mix in the crumbled bread, 3 tbsp of the parmesan and the provolone. Fill the aubergine shells with this mixture.
Drizzle a little extra-virgin olive oil in an ovenproof dish and put the filled shells in it, ensuring they are well packed together to stop them falling over during baking. Top with the sliced cherry tomatoes and drizzle over a little extra-virgin olive oil. Mix together the dried breadcrumbs and the remaining parmesan cheese and sprinkle over each one.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until tender. Serve hot, or they can be eaten warm or cold.