How to cook the perfect aubergine parmigiana

Brighten up your bleak February evenings with a touch of stodgy Mediterranean magicAubergine parmigiana (aka melanzane alla parmigiana, or parmesan aubergine, for the sake of linguistic consistency) is that rare and glorious thing: Mediterranean stodge. Despite the oft-repeated assumption that it is, as Jamie Oliver puts it, "a classic northern Italian recipe", parmigiana probably, as Jane Grigson observes in her masterful Vegetable Book, hails from the south, where it is popular fare in the rosticcerias, or roast-meat shops, of Naples and the surrounding area. True, it's almost certainly named for the northern cheese, but the aubergines, the tomatoes, and the mozzarella are all traditionally southern ingredients – perhaps the very fact the parmesan is singled out for mention suggests its exoticism.Whatever the truth of it, however, this is a dish which works as well on a bleak British February evening as it does on a balmy Naples night in May, the bold flavours supplying a welcome taste of warmer climes, while the copious amounts of oil and cheese provide the real heating power. Continue...