This is a crowd-pleasing dish you’ll want to serve again and again. The baked eggplant parmigiana is great served with pasta shells or can be frozen to enjoy later.
- 1 medium brown onion (150g), chopped finely
- 2 trimmed celery sticks (150g), chopped finely
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 3 cups tomato paste (750g)
- 2 litres of water (8 cups)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Olive oil, for shallow-trying
- 2 large eggplants (1kg), sliced thickly
- 3/4 cup packaged breadcrumbs (75g)
- 1/2 cup grated cheese (40g)
- 1 kg shell or any short pasta
- Heat a large heavy-based saucepan; cook onion and celery, stirring, until onion is soft. Add brandy and parsley; cook until most of the brandy evaporates. Stir in pasta, water and sugar; simmer, uncovered, for about 1 1/4 hours or until sauce thickens slightly.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan; shallow-fry eggplant, in batches, until browned on both sides. Drain on absorbent paper.
- Preheat the oven to moderate. Place one-third of the eggplant, in a single layer, in a shallow 3-litre (12-cup) ovenproof dish; pour one-third of the tomato sauce over the eggplant, sprinkle with half of the breadcrumbs and half of the cheese. Repeat the layering process, finishing with eggplant and tomato sauce.
- Bake eggplant parmigiana, uncovered, in the oven for about 40 minutes or until almost set.
- Just before serving, cook pasta in a large pan of boiling water, uncovered, until just tender; drain. Serve eggplant parmigiana over pasta.