The Crooked Billet

Baked Courgette & Aubergine Parmigiano

Serves 2
Baked courgette and aubergine Parmigiano

I had the pleasure of interviewing Gioncarlo and Katie Caldesi at the Henley Literary Festival – promoting their new book ‘Italian Cookery Course’.

Working with the Caldesi’s reminded me of this gorgeous veggie aubergine and courgette recipe.

Courgettes are at their best when smaller, nutty and sweet. The big bloated ones – little Zeppelins – have a mushy texture and lack taste.

When I was a kid we had them sliced and boiled – pretty yuck. If cooking them as an accompanying vegetable, brush with olive oil, season and roast, grill, panfry or barbeque – but don’t boil them! Delicious simply sliced to thin ribbons and enjoyed raw – drizzle of olive oil, squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper.

Try baking courgette rings in a savoury custard – whip up a couple of free-range eggs with 150ml full-fat milk, grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. Bake everything in an ovenproof dish for 30 minutes.

The following Parmigiano recipe is popular with guests at both the Crooked Billet and London Street Brasserie.

2 medium courgettes

1 large aubergine

2 free-range eggs, beaten

100g plain flour, seasoned

Olive oil

200g tomato relish

2 buffalo mozzarella balls

75g shaved Parmesan

Maldon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

For the tomato relish (makes about 200g):

1kg ripe tomatoes

2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

Olive oil

Sugar, Maldon salt, freshly ground black pepper

First make the tomato relish; skin the tomatoes by cutting a little cross in their bottoms then drop them into rapidly boiling water for 30 seconds. Fish them out – their skins will now easily slip off.

Quarter the tomatoes, remove the seeds, then roughly chop the quarters into 1cm squares. Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan on the hob. Gently soften the shallot and garlic, now add the chopped tomato and over a low heat, simmer for 10 minutes. Season with a pinch of sugar, salt and a few twists of black pepper.

Slice the courgettes and aubergine lengthways, 4-5mm thick. Heat a ribbed griddle pan (or barbeque); brush courgette slices lightly with olive oil, season and grill – just 30 seconds a side to colour.

Heat a good centimetre of olive oil in a large frying pan. Dip the aubergine slices in seasoned flour, then into beaten egg, fry for 1 minute in the hot olive oil. With tongs, turn the aubergine slices and fry until light golden for a further minute. Drain slices on kitchen paper.

Slice the mozzarella balls 4-5mm thick. Lay a fried aubergine slice on a baking sheet, spread a 5mm layer of tomato relish, lay a couple of courgette slices on top. Some shaved Parmesan and sliced mozzarella on the courgette. Repeat the process again laying aubergine, tomato relish, courgette and finally a last generous layer of Parmesan and mozzarella.

The listed ingredients are sufficient for 2 Parmigiano stacks.

Bake in a pre-heated 180°C oven for 30 minutes until the cheeses have melted and the tomato relish is bubbling.

Serve with roquette, basil, blushed tomato, olives and a little balsamic.