2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
small bunch basil, stalks finely chopped
2 x 400 g cans cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped sundried or semi-dried tomatoes
1 tsp clear honey
few thyme sprigs, leaves removed
4 medium eggplant
2 balls light mozzarella, thinly sliced
25 g breadcrumbs
25 g Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), finely grated
crusty bread, to serve (optional)
- Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a pan. Soften the garlic and the basil stalks for 1 min, without letting the garlic colour. Add both types of tomatoes, the honey, most of the thyme leaves and plenty of seasoning. Simmer for 5 mins – you don’t want the sauce to reduce too much at this stage.
- Meanwhile, heat oven to 200C/180C fan. Cut 6 slits down into the flesh of each aubergine crosswise, taking care not to cut all the way through. Season inside, then push a slice of the mozzarella and a basil leaf into each gap.
- Pour the tomato sauce into a large baking dish and sit the aubergines in it (or use 4 individual dishes). Drizzle with the remaining oil. Cover with foil and scrunch it tightly at the edges. Bake for 50 mins-1 hr until soft.
- Remove the foil. Mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan, and scatter over the aubergines with the rest of the thyme. Bake, uncovered, for another 15 mins or until the aubergines are very tender and the crumbs are golden and crisp. (The best way to tell if they are ready is to prod the largest aubergine in the centre with a skewer.) Let the dish rest for 5 mins, then scatter over the rest of the basil leaves. Serve with crusty bread, if you like.