Aubergines are delicious as a side dish or to add variety to a buffet meal or lunch table. Here they are cooked quite simply, so that their flavour is brought out and they become almost creamy and tender as they bake. There is no cheese or rich sauce; just plenty of good olive oil and a judicious amount of garlic and herbs.
In Italy this dish would be served as a side dish or as part of an antipasto selection. Any leftovers can be chopped and used as a pasta sauce or spread on bread at lunch time.
700g / 1 ½ lb aubergines – either several small ones or a couple of large ones
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
First prepare the aubergines.
Small aubergines should be trimmed of their stalks and cut in half lengthways.
Large aubergines can be cut into disks across the width, about 4 cm / 1 ½ inches thick.
Whichever size you use, the top sides of each piece (flesh not skin) should be scored in a criss cross pattern, being careful not to cut right though to the other side.
Arrange the cut aubergine pieces around the sides of a colander and sprinkle them generously with salt. Leave them standing for about 45 minutes until some of their bitter juice has drained off. Wipe the remaining salt and juice from the surfaces with kitchen paper.
Use a baking dish or roasting pan big enough to fit all the aubergine pieces without them overlapping. Grease the base with olive oil and arrange the pieces with the scored sides facing up.
Sprinkle the garlic and parsley evenly over the aubergines, pressing it into the cuts as you go. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour half the olive oil over the aubergines and bake at 230C / 450F in the top of the oven. After 15 minutes, take out the dish, pour over the rest of the olive oil and return to the oven for another 15 minutes. The flesh should be tender and creamy.
Serve hot or warm according to your preference.
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