Aubergine parmigiana towers
I cannot think of a better Italian vegetable recipe than aubergine parmigiana, or melanzana alla parmigiana in Italian, but while the flavour is truly incredible, it isn’t always the most elegant dish to plate. Sure, as a main course this can be beautifully served in a huge oven dish in the centre of the table, but – unless your version holds together perfectly – on a plate as a smaller starter or a side dish it almost always looks a little underwhelming.
So, I started thinking of a way to reinvent one of my favourite recipes into a dish gorgeous both in look and taste.
Ever since watching Disney’s Ratatouille, I have wanted to make my own version of that ‘final dish’ from the last scene (click here to watch if you’re not familiar) and while I wasn’t too keen on making a ratatouille, I thought this classic aubergine, cheese and tomato combination could work brilliantly for this. Admittedly, my aubergine parmigiana does not look as ‘Pixar-perfect’ as the dish in that film (is that way of plating even possible?), but my version does deliver a different, original and more neat take on this traditional recipe that is great to enjoy as a starter or as a side dish.
This recipe is super simple and based on the flavours of a classic aubergine parmigiana recipe, with a tomato sauce very quick to make yet packed with flavour. I know not all aubergine parmigiana recipes include the use of mozzarella, and while absolutely not needed in the original version, it does really help keep things together here so I would highly recommend you keep it in.
In fact, I believe the best mozzarella to use here is the cheap kind that contains less liquid and as it melts really help stick the layers of these towers together.Print
This recipe for aubergine parmigiana, or melanzana alla parmigiana, towers is easy to prepare yet an impressive alternative for the traditional version.
- 1 large aubergine (approximately 400g)
- 150g mozzarella
- 15g parmesan cheese
- Few leaves of fresh basil (optional)
- 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the onion, season with a pinch of salt, and fry for 5 minutes until softened but not browned. Grate in the garlic (I love using a microplane for this) and fry for another minute or so.
- Add in the chopped tomatoes and dried oregano and stir well. Bring to a simmer and continue simmering for approximately 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Season well with salt and pepper and leave to cool.
- Meanwhile, cut the aubergines in slices, approximately 1/2 cm thick. This recipe serves four starters, and you want to end up with approximately five slices of aubergine per tower, so make sure you have about 20 slices.
- Slice the mozzarella thinly. Place the slices on some kitchen towel to remove any excess liquid.
- In a large frying pan, fry the slices of aubergines for a few minutes on each side. The aubergines should soften but not brown too much. They can develop some colour, but if you feel they brown too much, lower the heat. Transfer the aubergine slices to some kitchen towel to absorb any excess olive oil which will ensure the final result isn’t too greasy. Continue cooking the aubergine in badges.
- Once you have prepared all components, brush a large oven dish with olive oil and start building the four towers. Start with a slice of aubergine, add a heaped teaspoon or so on top and spread over the aubergine slice. Layer some mozzarella on top and sprinkle with some parmesan cheese. Continue in this order to build five layers, ending with some tomato sauce and parmesan cheese, no mozzarella.
- Place the dish in the oven for 15-18 minutes. The mozzarella should be melted and the top turned slightly golden, but ensure not to overcook as the aubergine will go too soft risking the towers to collapse.
- Leave to cool slightly before serving. Serve with some fresh basil.
- Category: Main Course
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Italian
- Calories: 192
- Sugar: 5g
- Sodium: 257mg
- Fat: 12g
- Saturated Fat: 5g
- Unsaturated Fat: 3g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 11g
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 10g
- Cholesterol: 30mg
Keywords: aubergine parmigiana towers, aubergine parmigiana recipe, aubergine parmigiana appetizer, eggplant appetizer recipes
More Italian recipes on Michiel’s Kitchen:
- Oven-baked tomato orzo pasta
- Carrot risotto with cherry tomatoes
- Recipe for fresh green (spinach) pasta dough
- Homemade spinach tortellini with butternut squash filling and sage