This classic Italian aubergine recipe makes a delicious meat free meal – try it this week for supper and you’ll not be disappointed.
Recipe by Gennaro Contaldo taken from Saturday Kitchen Cooking Bible (£20; Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
- 6 beef tomatoes, ripe but firm (try to get ones that are all roughly the same size)
- 9 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 handfuls basil leaves
- 2–3 tbsp plain flour, for dredging
- 400g small aubergines, trimmed, thinly sliced into rounds
- 2 eggs, beaten with a large pinch salt
- 200g mozzarella
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
Using a sharp knife, slice the tops off the tomatoes, about a quarter of the way down, to make the lids. With a small spoon or scoop, remove the seeds and pulp inside the tomatoes and reserve. Place the hollowed-out tomatoes onto a plate lined with kitchen paper. Add a pinch of salt to the cavity of each, then turn the tomatoes upside down and set aside for 10–15 minutes to allow any excess moisture to escape
Meanwhile, heat 4 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil in a pan over a high heat. Fry the onion for 3–4 minutes, or until softened, then add the reserved tomato pulp and half of the basil leaves and season, to taste, with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir well. Reduce the heat to medium, then half cover the pan with a lid and continue to cook the tomatoes for about 20 minutes, or until most of the moisture has evaporated and the mixture has thickened. Check and stir from time to time to prevent it from burning
Heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil in a separate frying pan over a medium–high heat. While the oil is heating up, sprinkle the flour onto a plate and dredge the aubergine rounds in it, shaking off any excess. When the oil is hot, dip each round into the beaten egg. Add the coated aubergine to the hot oil, in batches if necessary, and fry for 3–4 minutes on each side, or until crisp and golden-brown on both sides. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle a little salt all over
At this stage you are ready to assemble your ingredients in the cavity of each hollowed-out tomato. Begin with a slice of aubergine, then top with a spoonful of tomato sauce, followed by a basil leaf and then a slice of mozzarella. Repeat the layers until the tomato cavities are full and all the ingredients have been used up. (Reserve any leftover basil leaves for the garnish.) Put the lid on each tomato and transfer to an ovenproof dish. Season, to taste, with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle over a little of the remaining olive oil
Bake the stuffed tomatoes in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened and the cheese has melted. To serve, garnish with the remaining basil leaves, then drizzle over the remaining extra virgin olive oil and season again to taste.