"Next to spaghetti with tomato sauce, this may well have been,for a certain generation or two, the most familiar of Italian dishes. Perhaps some cooks find it too commonplace to attract their serious attention;but at home I have never stopped making it, and am pleased to see aubergine parmesan continuing to appear in Italy, not just in pizza parlours, but even in rather fancy restaurants. No dish has ever been devised that tastes more satisfyingly of summer, and its popularity will no doubt endure long after many of the newer arrivals on the Italian food scene have had their day".- Marcella Hazan
Inspired by Nigel Slater´s recipe for Mozzarella salad with hot tomato crumbs, I set myself the challenge of deconstructing the classic Aubergine parmigiana and making a salad of it.I am committing a heinous crime. I have always said you should never meddle with a classic but better the devil you know than the devil you don´t. Every aubergine parmigiana recipe I have researched says it is equally good served cold , so I'm going to put my neck on the line here. "Ohhh crumbs" I hear you say, the Italians will be getting "caldo tutto interno da collare." (I'm bracing myself already for a flurry of comments from Furious of Firenze, violated of Vicenza and irate of Roma) Anyway here´s how I did it.
I collated the aubergine, tomato, extra virgin olive oil, mozzarella, basil leaves, parmesan and breadcrumbs, my notebook and set to work.
A warm salad of aubergine parmesan tomato basil mozzarella and breadcrumbs
1.35kg /3lb aubergines diced into bite size cubes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
500g fresh plum tomatoes San Marzano coarsely chopped
300g ( 2 balls ) buffalo mozzarella
8-10 basil leaves
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Dice the aubergines and steep them in layers sprinkled with salt inside a colander. place a deep dish under the colander to collect the bitter drippings and allow the aubergine to steep for 30 minutes or more.Pat the aubergine cubes dry with kitchen paper.
Cut the mozzarella into round slices, then place, slightly overlapping, in a serving dish. Finely chop the basil leaves, then add a few twists of black pepper and the 3 tbsp of olive oil. Pour the herb dressing over the slices of mozzarella. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for up to four hours.
Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Cut the tomatoes in half, scoop out and discard the seeds, dice the flesh into small pieces then transfer to a mixing bowl. Tear or shred the basil leaves and finely grate the parmesan, then add, together with the olive oil, to the tomatoes. Toss the tomatoes and basil, parmesan and bread crumbs together gently. Rinse the aubergine and dry with kitchen towel then tip into a dish, add some extra virgin olive oil to lightly coat the cubes and bake for 25 minutes.Remove from the oven and toss in the tomato mixture stirring lightly to combine with the aubergines return to the oven and bake for afurther 15 minutes or until the mixture has crisped lightly on top.
Remove the mozzarella from the fridge, scatter the crisp tomato dressing over it, then slide, using a fish slice, on to the plates.
Devilishly delicious, all the flavours of a traditionally baked aubergine parmigiana but less oily due to the fact that the aubergines were roasted not fried. The overall taste was a lot lighter and fresher.A perfect dish for an Indian summer or early autumn.Thumbs up for crumbs