This is a really great vegetarian dish. Once you've tasted it, you won't miss meat at all. If you can’t get hold of caciocavallo cheese, use well-drained mozzarella.
4tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying
4 tins of chopped tomatoes
2 large bunches of basil
Plain flour to coat
Sunflower oil for frying
4 thick slices of Caciocavallo cheese – about 300g
100g pecorino cheese (or parmesan)
Bread and green salad to serve
1) Slice the aubergine pieces in to thick slices, just less than a centimetre in thickness. You are aiming for 32 thick slices. Lay the aubergines out as best you can in front of you and scatter all over with a little salt. Lay the aubergine pieces on to a drying rack and leave to sit for 2 hours. It’s pretty impractical to lay out all the pieces so don’t worry too much if they overlap a little.
2) While the aubergine slices are sitting, heat up the 4 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan. When hot carefully pour in the chopped tomatoes and add about 20 basil leaves along with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Leave the sauce to simmer gently for 15 minutes then turn it off and leave to sit.
3) When the aubergines have had their 2 hours sitting, collect them all together and give them a good pat with kitchen roll to remove excess liquid.
4) Whisk the eggs together thoroughly. Pour enough olive oil and sunflower oil (50/50) in to a deep frying pan to shallow fry.
5) The next bit has to be done in batches. Take 3-4 slices of aubergine (Depending on the size of your frying pan), dip them into the flour, pat off the excess, dip into the egg and then gently lay the slices in to the hot oil. Fill the pan in a single layer. Fry the aubergines for about 2 minutes on each side, by which time the egg should have browned and the aubergine be cooked through. Remove the cooked slices to a clean piece of kitchen roll to remove any excess oil.
6) Repeat the process with the remaining aubergine slices and egg until you end up with a 32 slice high mountain of fried aubergine slices.
7) Pre-heat your oven to 170.
8) Now to assemble your Parmigiana. Lay 8 slices in the base of a 30cm x 18cm oven-proof dish. A little overlapping is nice, just don’t pile on each other too much. Pour a quarter of the tomato sauce over the aubergine pieces. Break up a quarter of the Caciocavallo cheese and scatter over. Tear a few basil leaves and drop over the sauce. Finish the layer with a good grating of pecorino.
9) Repeat the process 3 more times finishing with a layer of tomatoes and cheese.
10) Bake the Parmigiana in the oven for 20 minutes or until just browned on top and bubbling around the edges.
11) Serves up with chunks of bread and a green salad.