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All the way from the Emerald Isle!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

You call it Eggplant and we call it Aubergine. Either way, it is delicious!

One of our favourite dishes, tried and true, is 'Eggplant Lasagna'. I suppose now that we are on the other side of the pond we should be renaming this dish and referring to it as 'Aubergine Lasagna' but it does not have the same ring to it. My Chef, being a lifelong gardener, has grown these lovelies with ease for years now.

Going back as far as he can remember he has been serving up this dish to please the masses and they just keep coming back for more. 

A few WiseTips to keep in mind before you get started:
Use the good stuff! Remember the golden rule: 'Garbage in, Garbage out!' 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
Parmigiano Reggiano, 
and a nice blob of soft goats cheese. (not out of a tub!)

First, make a little infused olive oil. Pour 2 cups of olive oil into a pot on the stove and add two whole bulbs of garlic (no need to peel) and 2 handfuls of basil. Let it come to a boil then reduce the heat and let slowly simmer for 20 minutes. Strain, and set oil aside to use when making the tomato sauce later.

Slice the Eggplant/Aubergine into large circles (see photo below). Lay them out on a baking rack and sprinkle salt on the slices. After a few minutes you will see droplets of water forming on the surface. Leave for a half hour. This takes a lot of the moisture out of the vegetable. After the time has elapsed, dip in an egg wash and flour and leave to dry a few minutes before you deep fry these slices. Once fried, leave on a draining rack it will be hard to leave them alone at this point, because this is when they taste fab! Just out of the oil, you can sprinkle a little salt/pepper and throw them ontop of a nice salad for a quick lunch!

Ok - back to the sauce. Using a little of the olive oil you prepared earlier, sauté 6 cloves of garlic (ok, use the whole bulb) and two onions.  Get 3 or 4 cans of tomatoes and add to the garlic/onions. Add the rest of the olive oil (or as much as you want). You can add a little tomato paste too if you like a thicker sauce.

As the sauce is now ready and the eggplant/aubergine is fried/ready, all you have to do is assemble. If you are just cooking for two, then I suggest layering the eggplant/aubergine with the sauce, goats cheese and olives and finish off with the sauce, goats cheese and a small sprig of basil leaves for garnish and flavour!

When buying the olives, do not buy the pitted ones. They are flavourless. Buy the ones with the pits in and just  deal with it. Spit 'em out, pit them.....they taste better. 

Also, on the cheese. The goats cheese needs to be soft and creamy. Trust me, when this melts together with that tomato sauce (that you have made) and the acidity of the olives all mangles in your will think you have died and gone to heaven (or where ever your happy place is these days).

A little bit of Parmesan is advised just to dust lightly over the top of it all. This is after all a sudo American/Italian dish.

If you are serving the masses (as we so frequently do at this house) then find your best casserole dish and layer as follows: Sauce, Eggplant/Aubergine, Olives, Cheese (ok, pit the olives first), and repeat for three layers.

As I mentioned before, this is hands down one of our all-time favourite dishes. AND it is (shockingly) vegetarian. Best served with a nice bottle of red wine and a large loaf of crusty fresh bread!

The neighbours will be beating the door down looking for the recipe and leftovers!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.

Let me know if you try it!



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