Aubergines baked in a tomato sauce with cheese has long been a favourite, there are many recipes out there using variations on these ingredients. I first came across this on a flight to Menorca. Antonio Carluccio had written a piece for the in flight magazine, my father and I were so taken with it the page was surreptitiously ripped from the mag and secreted about my person. There is a very good version in Rick Stein's Mediterranean Escapes and any number in my various Italian, Spanish and Mediterranean cook books. Over the years I have refined my recipe to use less fat (most recipes will have you fry the aubergine in oil, I dry fry or use the George Foreman Lean Grilling Machine to get the scorch stripes) and to add a few extras if the mood takes me, but in essence it is as follows:-
- Pat dry the aubergine slices
- Dry fry in batches in a non-stick pan or an grilling machine
- Whilst frying the aubergines, pour a good glug of oil into a pan and heat fairly high, but not smoking, add the chopped garlic and frizz, but not burn.
- Pour in the tomatoes - it will spit. Turn down the heat to a simmer, add a few shredded basil leaves and leave for 20mins, stirring occasionally.
- (To veer away from the classic recipes, I sometimes at this point add fried pancetta cubes or sliced mushroom to the tomato sauce).
- Layer into an oven proof dish, tomato, some torn basil leaves, taleggio followed by aubergine, repeat.
- Finish with a layer of sauce and make sure you have lots of taleggio left for the top.
- Pop into the oven at 200oc for 20-30mins.
The taleggio, comes out of the oven wonderfully crispy on top and gooey inside the dish.