I’ve tried for the last couple of years to grow aubergines and for the first time this year I had success – yay!
I wrote about my AMAZING 2017 harvest in this post. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have all this food in my own back garden.
In previous years when I’ve tried to grow aubergines I get flowers, but then they just drop off without bearing any fruit. I’ve tried outside, in a green house, under cloches etc, but always had nothing.
I’m not the sort of person who gives up easily and my husband and I both LOVE aubergines so I thought if at first you don’t succeed, just keep at it!
I’m so glad I did as we had some real beauties. I planted two different varieties, all of which I put in my little plastic greenhouse. I grew a standard size money maker variety and a variety which was supposed to be a ‘mini aubergine’ which is more globe shaped.
I did have a few flowers just drop off, but in the main, I got good shaped really sturdy fruit and the variety which were supposed to be mini ones were MAHOOSIVE!
We tried to make some aubergine dip, but we didn’t like it, so the rest went in ratatouille, which we preserve (recipe coming soon). We also made loads of this wonderful aubergine parmigiana. If you are unsure of what it is, it’s basically aubergines in a really rich tomato sauce covered in cheese. It’s really yummy and can either be a main, or side. We usually have it as a side dish with some grilled chicken or fish. Below you can see how it’s put together – a bit like a lasagna.
There are lots of recipes out there for aubergine parmigiana, but this is my take on it – we literally could not get enough of this and it’s even better the next day! Mine is a bit different as I don’t fry the aubergines in lots of oil first (I don’t like the greasy taste), I cut my aubergines quite thick in rounds rather than lengthways as I find they retain some bite if done like that, I also add some cheese to each layer rather than just on the top and I add a tiny bit of chilli flakes to my sauce for a bit of kick.
Below is the printable recipe for my aubergine parmigiana. For other recipes on my site please follow this link.
A rich and tasty dish.
- For the filling
- 2 very large aubergines or 4 medium sized ones cut into thick round slices.
- 4-5 tbsp (roughly) of vegetable oil in a dish.
- 20g of grated parmesan (or other hard cheese).
- 40-50g of grated cheddar (or other similar cheese). For the sauce
- 1 tbsp of olive oil.
- 1 – 2 cloves of garlic – crushed.
- 1 can of crushed tomatoes (400g)
- A small pinch of red chilli flakes (optional).
- 1 tsp of tomato puree (more if you prefer).
- ½ tsp of sugar (any kind you’ve got).
- 1 tsp of dried oregano (or a tablespoon of roughly chopped fresh).
- 1tbsp of fresh flat leaf parsley roughly chopped (you could used dried, but I don’t think it would taste as nice).
- salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat a large skillet pan on a medium/high heat until you can’t hold your hand above it. You don’t want it searingly hot, otherwise it’ll burn the aubergines, but it does need to be hot enough that they’ll sear quite quickly. I used a skillet pan with ridges as I like how it makes the aubergines look, but you don’t have to.
- Whilst the pan is heating, lightly brush each side of the sliced aubergines with vegetable oil. When the pan has heated fry your aubergine on each side for about 2-4 minutes. You might need to do this in batches. Don’t try to move them about when you first put them on the skillet, otherwise they will tear. You’ll know when they are ready as they will be wonderfully golden in colour and release from the skillet. Once done set aside on some kitchen paper.
- To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a heavy based pan and gently fry the garlic for a minute or so. You don’t want the garlic to colour, just to soften off a bit. Then add all other ingredients (except salt and pepper), stir it and then season to taste with the salt and pepper. Bring it all up to a gentle boil, stirring as much as you can, taking care as it can spit a bit and then turn down to a simmer. Cover the pan and simmer the sauce for about 20-30 minutes until it’s really lovely and velvety. Taste again and adjust seasoning if desired.
- Whilst the sauce is cooking, pre-heat your oven to 180 (160 fan) and lightly grease your chosen oven proof dish. Once the sauce is cooked it’s time to assemble! Begin by adding a couple of blobs of sauce at the bottom of your greased dish. Then layer on some aubergines (see images in main post), followed by a sprinkling of cheese, repeat with more sauce, aubergines, cheese etc. until all of the aubergine is used up – you need to end on a layer of cheese. Now I sprinkle my topping with a bit more dried oregano and a few extra chilli flakes, but you don’t have to do that.
- Once it’s assembled pop the dish onto a baking tray (in case it leaks as it sometimes does) and put the whole lot into your pre-heated oven.
- Bake for about 30-40 minutes until the sauce is bubbling under the cheese and the cheese is all lovely and golden on top – enjoy!