„Navicelle della melanzana" aubergines in lasagna style

Aubergines in lasagna style At the beginning of this year I started to learn Italian. I have always had a great passion for this country not with standing, the cuisine. Italians have so many dishes that are typical known as coming from their...

Aubergines in lasagna style
Aubergines in lasagna style

At the beginning of this year I started to learn Italian. I have always had a great passion for this country not with standing, the cuisine. Italians have so many dishes that are typical known as coming from their country «pizza, pasta, tiramisu, parmigiano, mozarella, spaghetti carbonara, focaccia, panna cotta» and hundreds of others that when spoken, automatically remind you of Italy. This place offers both high mountains in Tyrolean Alps for winter holidays and famous beaches in popular destinations like Capri, Tuscany, Calabria or Sardinia during hot summer. I?ve visited Italy a few times now, once during the World Football Championship and love the energy of it?s people.  «Oh man! » that was an atmosphere! We were having dinner in one pizzeria and everybody was watching the match. Each pizza it seemed,was preparedin much the same manner as the Italians were playing.  During stressful moments the cook was beating the dough ?insanely?. I loved the rythum of every sentence they said, or rather shouted.Since then, I dream about speaking like that one day. For now I try to name all the things around me in Italian and this recipe reminds me so much of Italy.I called it «navicelle della melanzana » which literally means ?eggplant boats? because of their shape.

Aubergines
Aubergines
I would relate this recipe more with the southern part of Italy rather than the north. It?s because the south was considered poor and the north wealthier.  The food was the reflection of social and economic conditions. In the south the food was vegetarian, using very little meat.  The cuisine was something between Greek and Spanish. In the north, the dishes were rich, using more butter and cream.  The typical dish was polenta which was more like the French or German cuisine. For 4 portions
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 400g of tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • 200g of mascarpone
  • 100g of cheese of your choice (mozarella, feta, ..)
  • Oregano, salt, pepper
Tomatoes
Tomatoes
Instructions:
  1.  Cut the aubergines lengthwise into 1 cm slices, salt them and let sweat for about half an hour. The salt extracts the water together with its bitterness. Shower them slightly with water and let dry for a while.
  2. Roast the aubergines in a pan with olive oil until soft.
  3. Now let's prepare a tomato sauce and mascarpone. Roast sliced garlic in a pan with some olive oil, dice tomatoes and add to the pan, season with the salt, pepper and oregano and cook for about 5 minutes. In a bowl mix the macarpone with some salt if needed.
  4. And now the "lasagna part". We will be making layers of each ingredient. Drizzle a baking sheet with some olive oil, then start with the largest slice of aubergine. On the aubergine slice, put a layer of mascarpone and a layer of tomato sauce. Cover with another aubergine slice and continue in the same way. Finally cover with the third slice. Duplicate the procedure for the remaining aubergines and pour the balance of tomato sauce on the top.
    Ready to bake
    Ready to bake
5. Bake for about 25 minutes in an oven of (170°C, 338F) , until heated through and flavors are well combined.  Sprinkle with grated cheese in the last 5 minutes of baking. Serve with potatoes or just with a salad. Enjoy!
Ready to serve
Ready to serve
ABOUT EGGPLANT
  • It may be challenging to cut the precise slices if not using a sharp knife as the aubergine is unstable, I like to use ceramic knives. They are made of zirconia which is harder than steel and do not require much sharpening.
The Bitter Taste
  • It is said that you should salt the aubergine before cooking and let the water come out. It?s because formerly, eggplants often had a bitter taste. However, the modern specially cultivated varieties are not bitter anymore and do not require this special treatment.
  • The only exception is if you want to fry your aubergine, then it is better to to salt it before, as it acts like a sponge and is able to soak up a great amount of oil thanks to its structure.
  • It softens very quickly during the cooking process so its beneficial to add it last 10 minutes when being cooked with some other ingredients.
  • The season of aubergines is from late May to mid October
  • To avoid discolouration, cut just before cooking. Once cut, eggplant flesh darkens with exposure to air, to prevent the discoloration you may wash it with some lemon juice.
  • If baking in one piece pierce with knife so that the vapour can escape.
  • The skin of eggplant contains nasunin which is an antioxidant that protects brain cells from free radicals. It is edible, but it takes longer to be digested even after cooking process. It may also be roasted in its skin until charred, so the pulp can be removed and blended with other ingredients.
  • It's technically a fruit (a berry), the aubergine is used as a vegetable. It's native to South-East Asia, but is grown all over the world.
  • When buying a fresh aubergine feels heavy, firm, smooth and glossy.
  • Other ways of use: Greek moussaka, French ratatouille, Turkish dip, baba ghanoush;
ABOUT MASCARPONE
  • Is a very popular Italian cow milk cheese.
  • If compared with some other diary product I would place it between cream cheese and butter with both the texture and the amount of fat present inside which vary from 70 to 85% and makes it velvet-like
  • I like the universal use of mascarpone as it may be used with both sweet (cheesecake, tiramisu) and savory dishes, typical is a very simple spread made of mascarpone, anchovies, mustard, herbs and pepper