Aubergine parmigiana is a classic Italian dish that consists of layers of fried aubergine, tomato sauce, cheese, and basil. It’s a hearty and satisfying meal that can be enjoyed as a main course or a side dish. Nigella Lawson, the famous British chef and cookbook author, has her own version of this dish, which she calls “cheesy aubergine bake”. She adds sun-dried tomato pesto, feta cheese, and pine nuts to the traditional recipe, giving it a more intense and complex flavor.
In this guide, I will show you how to make Nigella’s aubergine parmigiana, step by step, with tips and tricks along the way.
Let’s get started!
What is Nigella Aubergine Parmigiana?
Nigella Aubergine Parmigiana is a delicious baked dish that is inspired by the traditional Italian Aubergine Parmigiana. It is made with layers of fried aubergine, tomato sauce, cheese, and basil, and topped with breadcrumbs, parmesan, and pine nuts. Nigella Lawson, a famous British chef and cookbook author, adds her own twist to this dish by using sun-dried tomato pesto, feta cheese, and chili and tomato sauce, which give it a more intense and complex flavor.
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Why You Love this Recipe
There are many reasons to love this recipe, such as:
- Ease of Preparation: Simple steps and readily available ingredients make this recipe accessible.
- Adaptability: It’s vegetarian but can be modified to include various ingredients.
- Flavor Profile: The blend of cheeses, tomato sauce, and pesto creates a rich, satisfying taste.
- Versatility: Suitable as a main or side dish, it pairs well with salad, bread, or pasta.
- Next-Day Enjoyment: Flavors intensify when left overnight, offering a different yet delightful experience.
Ingredients Needed to Make Nigella Aubergine Parmigiana
To make Nigella’s aubergine parmigiana, you will need the following ingredients:
- 1 large aubergine, sliced into thin rings
- Salt, to taste
- 2 tablespoons of sun-dried tomato pesto
- 1 jar of chili and tomato sauce (or use your favorite tomato sauce)
- 200 grams of mozzarella, grated
- 100 grams of feta cheese, crumbled
- 50 grams of parmesan cheese, grated
- 50 grams of breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons of pine nuts
- A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn (optional)
You will also need the following equipment:
- A griddle pan or a frying pan
- A large baking dish
- A small bowl
- A spoon
- A knife
- A chopping board
- An oven
Instructions to Make Nigella Aubergine Parmigiana
Follow these steps to make Nigella’s aubergine parmigiana:
Step 1: Preheat the oven and prepare the aubergine
Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan) / 400°F / gas mark 6. Sprinkle some salt over the aubergine slices and leave them to drain in a colander for 30 minutes. This will help to draw out the excess moisture and bitterness from the aubergine, and also season them from the inside. After 30 minutes, rinse the aubergine slices under cold water and pat them dry with a kitchen towel or paper.
Step 2: Fry the aubergine
Heat a griddle pan or a frying pan over a high heat. Brush some oil over the aubergine slices and fry them on both sides until they are soft and charred, about 3 minutes per side. You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your pan. Transfer the cooked aubergine slices to a plate and set aside.
Step 3: Assemble the dish
Spread 1 side of the cooked aubergine slices with 2 tablespoons of sun-dried tomato pesto, then layer them up into 3 layers in a lightly greased ovenproof dish with mozzarella and a jar of chili and tomato sauce. Mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan, and pine nuts in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the top of the dish. Add some basil leaves if you like, for extra freshness and colour.
Step 4: Bake and serve
Bake the dish for 20 to 25 minutes, until it is bubbling and golden on top. Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving, to allow the flavours to meld and the cheese to set. Cut into slices and enjoy with a green salad, some crusty bread, or on its own. This dish can also be eaten cold or reheated the next day, as it tastes even better the longer it sits.
What Do I Serve With Nigella Aubergine Parmigiana?
Nigella Aubergine Parmigiana can be served with a variety of dishes, depending on your preference and appetite.
Some suggestions are:
- Salads: A green salad complements the rich flavors.
- Breads: Crusty bread varieties like ciabatta or sourdough are excellent accompaniments.
- Pasta: Simple olive oil and garlic pasta pair well.
- Meat Options: For a protein-rich meal, serve with grilled chicken or lamb chops.
Pro Tips to Make Perfect Nigella Aubergine Parmigiana
Elevating Nigella’s Aubergine Parmigiana to perfection involves attention to detail and the incorporation of nuanced techniques. These pro tips will help you enhance the flavors and textures, ensuring an exquisite culinary experience.
- Salting Aubergine: Salt aubergine slices generously and let them sit longer, ideally up to an hour, for more effective moisture and bitterness removal. This also improves their ability to hold shape and absorb flavors.
- Optimal Frying: Achieve the perfect char by maintaining medium-high heat and using a mix of olive oil and butter for frying, adding a rich flavor to the aubergine slices.
- Layering with Pesto: For a more pronounced flavor, consider lightly heating the sun-dried tomato pesto before spreading it, as this can release more aromas and oils.
- Tomato Sauce Quality: If using store-bought sauce, enhance it with a dash of balsamic vinegar or a spoonful of sugar to deepen the flavor profile.
- Cheese Selection: Experiment with layering different textures of cheese, such as creamy ricotta or crumbly goat cheese, alongside the suggested mozzarella, feta, and parmesan.
- Crunchy Topping: Mix the breadcrumbs with a bit of melted butter before sprinkling over the top for an extra crispy, golden crust.
- Resting Time: After baking, cover the dish with foil and let it rest, allowing the flavors to infuse further and the cheese to reach the perfect consistency.
Variations of Nigella Aubergine Parmigiana
If you have any leftovers of Nigella Aubergine Parmigiana, you can store them in the fridge or freezer, by following these steps:
- Let the dish cool completely at room temperature, then cover it with foil or plastic wrap, or transfer it to an airtight container.
- Store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Reheat it in the oven or microwave, or eat it cold, as you prefer.
- Let the dish cool completely at room temperature, then cut it into portions and wrap them individually with foil or plastic wrap, or place them in freezer-safe bags or containers.
- Label and date the packages, and store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Thaw them completely in the fridge overnight, or in the microwave on a defrost setting, before reheating them in the oven or microwave.
How do I reheat Nigella Aubergine Parmigiana Leftovers?
To reheat Nigella Aubergine Parmigiana leftovers, you can use the oven or the microwave, following these steps:
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan) / 350°F / gas mark 4.
- Place the dish or the portions in an ovenproof dish, and cover it with foil.
- Bake it for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it is hot and bubbly.
- Remove the foil and bake it for another 5 minutes, or until it is golden on top.
- Place the dish or the portions in a microwave-safe dish, and cover it with a lid or a paper towel.
- Microwave it for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it is hot and bubbly, stirring halfway through.
Nutrition value per serving (based on 6 servings):
- Calories: 433 kcal
- Fat: 28 g
- Carbohydrates: 24 g
- Protein: 22 g
- Fiber: 9 g
- Sugar: 13 g
- Sodium: 630 mg
- Calcium: 480 mg
- Iron: 2 mg
- Vitamin C: 23 mg
- Vitamin A: 610 IU
How do I prevent the aubergine from absorbing too much oil when frying?
You can salt the aubergine slices before frying, as this will draw out some of the moisture and make them less spongy. You can also use a griddle pan or a non-stick frying pan, and brush the aubergine slices with oil instead of adding oil to the pan. Alternatively, you can bake or grill the aubergine slices instead of frying them, for a healthier option.
How do I make the tomato sauce more flavourful?
You can add some garlic, onion, herbs, spices, or chili to the tomato sauce, depending on your taste. You can also use fresh tomatoes instead of canned ones, or add some tomato paste or sun-dried tomato pesto for a richer and deeper flavor.
How do I make the cheese layer more creamy and gooey?
You can use a mix of cheeses, such as mozzarella, feta, and parmesan, to create a cheese layer with different textures and flavors. You can also add some ricotta cheese or bechamel sauce to the cheese layer, to make it more creamy and moist.
How do I store and reheat the leftovers of the dish?
You can store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, you can bake the dish in the oven, covered with foil, until hot and bubbly, or microwave it in a microwave-safe dish, covered with a lid or a paper towel, until hot and bubbly.
Nigella’s aubergine parmigiana is a delicious and easy dish that you can make for your family friends, or yourself. It’s a great way to use up some aubergine and cheese and to enjoy a taste of Italy at home. I hope you found this guide helpful and informative, and that you will try this recipe soon. Let me know how it turns out in the comments below, and if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to ask. Thank you for reading, and happy cooking!