I made this for a dinner party at the weekend and it went down a storm. I wasn’t going to write this one up but then I had so many people asking on Instagram how it was done that I felt I had to share it. It is a little bit of a labour of love I have to admit but if you mean for this to be the star of the show then it will be sparkling and it will be worth it. I used to have to make this everyday when I worked at L’Anima in Liverpool Street and I sort of lost my mind after making so many. There are a few fruit and vegetables that I have had close relationships with due to having to work with them so often and back in the day the aubergine was my nemesis. These days I sorta love it!
This is gluten-free
200g fresh tomato sauce (a nice shop bought one will do)
150g fior di latte cheese
bunch of basil
good pinch of dried oregano
30g grated parmesan
sea salt and black pepper
1l sunflower oil
a little olive oil
In a large saucepan add the sunflower oil and slowly bring this up to a high temperature. You can tell its ready when you add a pinch of flour into the oil and it sizzles. Just be careful that it doesn’t get too hot and sizzle too much, you can easily bring down the temp if it does.
While the oil is warming up you can prep the aubergine. Lay out lots of kitchen towel in rows and use a serrated knife to slice one aubergine in half lengthways. Very carefully use a small knife to cut out the inside leaving about 1/2cm of flesh next to the skin. You can use a spoon to scoop out and untidy bits that are left but do not break through to the skin. Do the same with the other half and then sprinkle the insides with salt and leave to one side for 5 minutes. Add the leftover flesh to a sauce for another time.. Top and tail the second aubergine and then slice in half lengthways. Slice one half into 1cm thick half moon shapes and then do the same with the second. Lay these pieces out on the kitchen towel and then salt generously all over. Now use kitchen towel to dab away the excess water away from the 2 large aubergine cases and then place both carefully into the hot oil. Use tongs to keep them submerged and fry until lightly golden which will take roughly 5 minutes. When fried, carefully let the excess oil drain and place into clean kitchen town to dry completely. Dab away with more towel inside the cases. Next dab the half moon pieces with towel and then fry them in batches until golden. Lay them on the kitchen towel to drain as well.
Line a baking tray with baking parchment and place the aubergine cases inside cut-side up. Add a spoonful of tomato sauce and spread a thin layer inside. Place one of the larger half-moon pieces inside the case with the purple skin showing and here you are basically reconstructing the aubergine. Add about 1/2 a teaspoon of sauce on the slice and then add a little slice of the cheese followed by a basil leaf. Continue adding the layers in this order and as the aubergine narrows the slices should get smaller. At this point they can go in the fridge covered overnight.
For cooking, preheat the oven to 190 degrees and grate parmesan over the aubergine, a small drizzle of olive oil and black pepper. Place on the top shelf of the oven for about 10 minutes to warm. Then I usually turn to the grill to crisp up the top for a further five minutes. Eat straight away with another sprinkle of parmesan and a little more fresh basil!