Italian stuffed aubergines
Equipment: You will also need a large solid baking sheet 40x30cm/16x12in lightly oiled, and a baking dish 40x30cm/16x12in, also oiled.
- 1 aubergine, approximately 350-400g/12-14oz
- 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp torn fresh basil leaves
- 2 tsp sun-dried tomato paste
- 6 anchovy fillets, drained
- 1 tbsp small capers, drained
- 150g/5oz mozzarella, drained
- 1½ tbsp fine fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 tsp parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), freshly grated
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 8 basil leaves, lightly oiled
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. First of all, wipe the aubergine and trim off the stalk end, then use the very sharpest knife you have to cut it lengthways into 8 thin slices about 5mm/¼in thick. When you get to the bulbous sides these slices should be chopped into small pieces and kept aside for the filling.
Now arrange the slices of aubergine in rows on the baking sheet, then brush each slice lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pop them into the oven on a high shelf and let them pre-cook for 15 minutes, by which time they will have softened enough for you to roll them up easily.
Next pour boiling water on the tomatoes and after 1 minute drain and slip the skins off. Then cut each tomato in half and, holding them in the palm of your hand, gently squeeze them until the seeds come out - it's best to do this over a plate or a bowl! Now using a sharp knife, chop the tomatoes into approximately 5mm/¼in dice.
Now heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large solid frying pan and fry the onion, chopped aubergine and crushed garlic for about 5 minutes. Then add the chopped tomatoes, torn basil leaves and tomato paste and continue to cook for about another 5 minutes. Give everything a good seasoning and add the chopped anchovies and capers. Then remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly.
Now chop the mozzarella into very small dice. As soon as the aubergines are cool enough to handle, sprinkle each one with chopped mozzarella, placing it all along the centre of each slice. On top of that, put an equal amount of stuffing ingredients, leaving a border all round to allow for expansion. Roll up the slices and put them in the baking dish, making sure the overlapping ends are tucked underneath.
Finally brush each one with oil, combine the fresh breadcrumbs and grated parmesan, sprinkle the mixture over them, pop a basil leaf on top, then bake in the oven at the same temperature for about 20 minutes and serve immediately.