The aubergine is one of the oddest vegetables around.

To start with, it’s purple, it doesn’t smell of anything and it tastes horrid raw.

But with the right ‘know how’, it can be turned into a culinary masterpiece – the world renowned Melanzane Parmigiana or Aubergine Parmigiana.

The dish is believed to originate in Northern Italy, where Parmigiana or Parmesan derives from, but its history hails from the southern Campania region, where it’s on almost every restaurant’s menu and enjoyed by all Neapolitans. Some would disagree to this, but they are usually from Parma or Sicily!

This dish is made up of layered aubergines, cheese and tomato sauce, similar to a lasagne but without the pasta or meat as this dish is completely vegetarian.

Aubergines are historically bitter in flavour. In recent times this has almost been completely bred out of them, but we still need to use the old method of salting them to remove this bitterness just in case. We wouldn’t want to go to all this trouble for the dish to be ruined.

The dish is baked in the oven, but the aubergines need to be pre-cooked before baking to soften. This is where many of the recipes can vary.

Different ways of cooking the aubergines can give different textures and flavours to the dish.

With each as good as the other, it’s hard to choose the preferred method. They can range from shallow or deep fry, grill, bake, coat, batter or even breadcrumb.

We prefer the classic method and shallow fry the aubergines for two reasons: it makes them much softer and more velvety and you cannot beat the flavour. Why mess with tradition?

Enough of the spiel, let’s get into the cooking!

All our delicious recipes will soon be available to download on our website or you can go to drink/dolcevita to see them.


Melanzane Parmigiana Ingredients 1.5kg aubergines (sliced length-ways) 150g parmesan (grated) 2 white onions (diced) 1 clove of garlic (finely chopped) 2 cartons of tomato passata A bunch of fresh basil 2 tbsp of tomato puree/paste 500g Caciocavallo cheese (thinly sliced) – most Italian cheeses work well with Parmigiana, like Pecorino, Provolone, Fontina, Scamorza, and if you can’t find any of these, mozzarella will do Recipe 1. In a colander, place your first sliced aubergine, add some salt, then layer another aubergine on top, then more salt – keep doing this process so all the aubergines are touching salt 2. Leave them like this for about an hour – this process is used to remove any bitterness the aubergine may have, and also remove the excess water, which stops it soaking up too much oil later on 3. When the aubergines are done, rinse them under water to get rid of the salt and pat them dry 4. In a saucepan, add the onions, garlic and a splash of olive oil and stir-fry for a few minutes 5. Add the passata, a pinch of salt and black pepper, the fresh basil leaves and the two tablespoons of tomato puree 6. Let the sauce simmer until it starts to thicken 7. If you have a deep fat fryer, you can use that to fry them until they are golden; if you do not, you can shallow fry them in a pan, putting them back in the colander to drain any excess oil afterwards 8. In a large baking tray, add a layer of aubergines, followed by a layer of sauce; sprinkle on some parmesan and add a few slices of Caciocavallo cheese 9. Repeat this process until the top layer is aubergine topped with sauce and sprinkled with parmesan; you can go heavy on the parmesan here as it will add a nice flavour and texture 10. Place the baking tray in the oven at 200°C for 40 minutes 11. Remove from the oven and let it rest for ten minutes before serving – the resting time will stop it from becoming slop on your plate and give it some stability 12. Hey presto, your Melanzane Parmigiana is ready to be served and enjoyed 13. If you have any leftovers, you can portion them up, wrap them in cling film and freeze them to be enjoyed at a later date