Ingredients

  • 1kg aubergines, thinly sliced lengthways
  • about 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g (2 cups) mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 100g (1 cup) Kerrygold Mature Cheddar, finely grated
  • For the tomato sauce:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 800g (3½ cups) canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • green salad and ciabatta bread, to serve

Directions

This is one vegetarian dish that even meat lovers will enjoy. Its origins are in Italy where there is always a big debate about what region it comes from as North and South claim it as their own.
  1. Place a layer of aubergine slices on a plate. Sprinkle with salt and cover with kitchen paper. Continue with another layer on top until you have used up all the aubergine slices, finishing with kitchen paper. Weigh it down using something heavy, like a pan filled with water, and leave for 30 minutes so that the aubergines can release any excess liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan over a medium heat and fry the onion for about 4 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds; be careful not to let it burn. Stir in the tomatoes with the tomato purée, sugar, cayenne pepper and stock cube. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C, Gas mark 4 and heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Brush each aubergine slice with a little oil, then fry, a few slices at a time, until cooked through and golden on both sides. Add a little more oil to the pan, if needed. Drain on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.
  4. Cover the bottom of a 30cm x 20cm baking dish with two tablespoons of the tomato sauce. Top with a layer of aubergine and lightly spread with 4 tablespoons of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle generously with mozzarella and Cheddar. Repeat these layers until you have used all the aubergine, finishing with a layer of tomato sauce and Cheddar (no mozzarella). Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Leave to settle in the baking dish for 5 minutes.
  5. To serve, place the dish of baked aubergine with tomato sauce and cheese directly on the table with a separate bowl of salad and bread.

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