Aubergine Lasagne

‘Melansagna Napoligiana’

This dish is the bastard son of melanzane parmigiana and lasagne Napoletane — both its progenitors hark from Naples. Their offspring was conceived far away, however (I must confess I had something to do with it) and you’re as likely to find this dish in Naples as you are a balti.

Ingredients

  • 400 g lasagne ricce
  • 2 medium aubergines, sliced no more than 5 mm thick Flour for dusting
  • Oil for frying
  • 500 ml arrabbiata sauce (or light tomato sauce with a little chilli added)
  • 1 small (25 g) bunch basil, roughly chopped
  • 250 g buffalo mozzarella, chopped or torn
  • 200 g grated Parmesan

Method

Blanch the pasta until quite flexible but still pretty raw in the middle, refresh in cold water and blot dry. Salt the aubergines with a sprinkling of fine sea salt (not so much to remove bitterness as excess water), stack them up and leave to stand for 30 minutes. Rinse and squeeze dry. Set your widest pan over a high heat with a half-centimetre depth of oil. As it just starts to smoke, flour the aubergines lightly and fry in batches, as a single layer in the pan, for a minute on each side until a light golden brown. Drain well.

Take a suitable baking tin (around 20 x 30cm) and smear the base with a little of the tomato sauce. Cover with a scant layer of aubergines, then one of pasta. Top this with a generous sprinkling of basil, mozzarella and Parmesan then drizzle with more sauce and cover with a sheet of pasta followed by aubergines. Continue to stack in this order (pasta, aubergine, cheese, basil and sauce) so your finished dish has aubergines on both the bottom and top layers. On the uppermost you should aim to have no basil, but extra Parmesan. Bake in a preheated oven (200°C fan oven, 220°C conventional) for 40 minutes or until bubbling and well browned.

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