Sub out a plant based cheese to make this vegan
3 large eggplants
1 onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely sliced
1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
2large cans good-quality tinned plum tomatoes , or 2 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper
a little wine vinegar
1 large handful fresh basil
3 large handfuls Parmesan cheese , freshly grated
2 handfuls dried breadcrumbs
a little fresh oregano , leaves chopped
1/2 cup mozzarella shredded ( optional )
First slice the eggplant into 1/4 thick slices, and put to one side. Whether you’re using a griddle pan or a barbecue, get it really hot. Meanwhile, put 2 or 3 tbspof olive oil into a large pan on a medium heat.
Add the onion, garlic and dried oregano and cook for 10 minutes, until the onion is soft and the garlic has a tiny bit of color. If you’re using canned tomatoes, break them up, and if you’re using fresh tomatoes quickly poke each one and put them into a big pan of boiling water for 40 seconds. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and put them into a bowl of cold water for 30 seconds, then remove the skins, carefully squeeze out the pips and cut up the flesh.
Add the tomatoes to the onion, garlic and oregano. Give the mixture a good stir, then put a lid on the pan and simmer slowly for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, either grill the eggplant on both sides until lightly charred or set up a breading station and fry just until a bit of color on each side / drain on your landing pad.
When the tomato sauce is reduced and sweet, season with salt, pepper and a tiny bit of wine vinegar, and add the basil. You can leave the sauce chunky or you can purée it.
Get yourself an ovenproof dish. Put in a small layer of tomato sauce, then a thin layer of Parmesan, followed by a single layer of eggplant. Repeat these layers until you’ve used all the ingredients up, finishing with a little sauce and another good sprinkling of Parmesan. I like to toss the breadcrumbs in olive oil with a little freshly chopped oregano and sprinkle them on top of the Parmesan. Sometimes the dish is served with torn-up mozzarella on top, which is nice too.
Place the dish in the oven and bake at 375° 5 for half an hour until golden, crisp and bubbly. It’s best eaten straight away, but it can also be served cold.