Some of you may have read Jason Matthews' Red Sparrow spy novels - in which at the end of each chapter he gives simple recipes for popular Russian dishes. I thought I might have an occasional blog post devoted to some of my favourite dishes. This is one of them. So simple to make, so utterly delicious to eat. All you need are the following to serve 6:
4 large abergines
roughly 1/2 pint of good quality tomato passata
1 large tablespoon of sun dried tomato paste
1 medium sized onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large ball of fresh mozzarella cut into three equal portions
250 grammes of grated gruyere cheese. Tip into a large bowl so that it is easier to crumble onto the dish when you need it
A bunch of fresh basil leaves (discard the stalks)
Thinly slice the aubergines lengthways and place on greaseproof paper on a roasting tin. You might need two trays - it is best not to stack the aubergines more than two layers thick. No need to season, just whack them in a hot oven (190 C) for about 35 minutes until soft but not overly brown. Meanwhile sweat the onions in the olive olive until soft but not browned, before adding the passata and the sun dried tomato paste and warming through. Do not boil. Set aside.
Once the aubergines have been precooked and set aside to cool down a little, it is time to assemble the parmigiana. In a good sized oven-proof dish, smear a little tomato mixture on the base then add the first of three layers of the cooked aubergine so that there are broadly no gaps. Next, add one third of the tomato mixture on top and spread evenly. Tear one of the mozzarella portions by hand and roughly place small dollops here and there, before finally sprinkling one third of the grated gruyere cheese all over. Lastly, add a few of the basil leaves on top. Repeat this aubergine, passata, mozzarella, gruyere and basil combination another two times and, voila - that's it. Time to return to the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, and get that bottle of red wine ready.
Warning: seriously delicious!!