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Aubergine, Tomato And Cheese Bake

ingredients

serves 6.
2 1/4 lb (1 kg) aubergines
1 3/4 lb (800 g) tinned tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 dried chilli pepper
2 mozzarella cheeses
5 oz (150 g) freshly grated hard cheese
1 large sprig basil
generous pinch oregano
light olive oil
salt and pepper

method

1. Make the tomato sauce: saute the garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil until pale golden brown; crumble in the chilli pepper (discard the seeds if you prefer a less peppery dish). Seed the tomatoes and chop coarsely; add to the garlic and chilli with a pinch of salt. Stir.

2. Cover the saucepan and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring every now and then. Towards the end of this time, add a generous pinch of oregano.

3. While the tomatoes are simmering, prepare and fry the aubergines. Trim off the ends, peel and slice lengthwise just under 1/4 in (approx. 1/2 cm) thick. Heat plenty of oil in a deep-fryer to 350°F (180°C) and fry a few slices at a time; alternatively, shallow-fry them. They should be pale golden brown but not crisp or dry.

4. Drain well, spread out on kitchen paper to finish draining and sprinkle with a little salt.

5. Thinly slice the mozzarella. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) mark 6.

6. Lightly oil a wide, shallow ovenproof dish or small roasting tin, cover the bottom with a layer of aubergine slices, sprinkle with a little of the sauce and with some of the grated hard cheese. Top with a sprinkling of some of the basil leaves, torn into small pieces, and with some mozzarella slices. Keep layering in this way until you have used all the ingredients, finishing with a mozzarella layer.

7. Place in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes; finish by browning the top lightly under a very hot grill/broiler.
Serve at once.

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