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Crunchy Aubergines

ana carolina caldas aguiar osorio from Brazil

Serves
2
Preparation
40 minutes
Cooks in
25 minutes
Country of origin
Italy

At the end of 2014 I was working in England, away from my husband and family. It was winter, and when the holiday season started, my husband decided to fly from Brazil and we both went to Italy, to join my sister in law and her family for a typical italian Christmas – and by that I mean two days of huge amounts of beautiful and tasty food and and countless glasses of wine.

On the day after Christmas, still stuffed from the feast we had, we decided to walk around Trieste, where they live. This region of Italy has a katabatic wind called Bora, and although what we experienced wasn’t anywhere close to the gales they have during that season, after a short walk around the marina it just got too windy for a typical Brazilian couple like us. That was when we discovered a small cantina, very similar to what we call a “boteco” in Brazil, and decided to go in to run away from the cold.

Once inside, the typical aromas of a “boteco” reached us – beer, wine, and food. Looking around, there were so many elderly people that I was immediately sure the place would sell the most simple and delicious food around. We ordered a couple of drinks, and eventually forgot that we were still feeling full. Actually, at that moment we could swear that we were starving for the last couple of days. We ordered the most delicious appetizers that were on display on the balcony.

Everything from tomato on toast to bacallao mantecado. But the best of all ended up being a simple aubergine parmigiana in a very rich tomato sauce, and with a copious amount of cheese. I can still taste those deep fried aubergines – crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

This recipe I shared is a healthier version of that indulgent dish I tried while walking around Trieste. Those unplanned experiences we have while traveling are usually the ones that end up sticking on our minds, and food often takes us back to such remarkable moments.

Ingredients

  • 1 large aubergine
  • 80g of stale bread (sourdough is a good option)
  • 3-4 sage leaves
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • a small bunch of parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup of freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • 20g of unsalted butter
  • sea salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • tomato sauce to serve
  • fresh greens like watercress or rocket to serve
  • lemon juice for the greens
  • shredded parmesan to serve

Method

  • cut the aubergine in thick slices (around 1.5cm thick).
  • transfer to a sieve over a bow and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt, then leave it for 30mins.
  • In the mean time, put the bread, the herbs, the cheese in a processor bow, season with a little of sea salt and black pepper, and process till you obtain coarse bread crumbs.
  • melt the butter over low heat and reserve.
  • After 30mins, dry each aubergine slice with a paper towel to remove the maximum of humidity.
  • Brush a slice of aubergine with butter and coat with the seasoned bread crumbs pressing slightly to fix it.
  • Transfer the coated aubergine to a baking tray covered with parchment paper. Repeat with the other slices.
  • Divide the remaining bread crumbs, if any, over the aubergines. Do the same with the remaining butter, if any.
  • Transfer the tray to a preheated oven at 220 degrees C. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the coating is gold.
  • Take the aubergines out of the oven and let them seat for 5 mins while you prepare the greens.
  • Season the greens with some fresh lemon juice.
  • Serve a ladle of tomato sauce, preferably homemade, on each plate, the crunch aubergine slices over the sauce and the simple salad by the side. Finish with some extra cheese and enjoy!

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