Recipe: Not my Nonna’s Melanzane

This is in fact Dad’s recipe for melanzane.  However, it seemed apt to include an Italian staple in this month’s edition, as the Italians are known for cooking up rustic family favourites that have been passed down through the generations. This cheesy aubergine gratin works perfectly as a rich starter or as a light lunch with salad.



1.     Put the oven on to 180 degrees.

2.     Slice the aubergine lengthways into slices about as thick as a £1.  Brush them with olive oil and grill them on both sides until they are lightly brown and soft.

3.     Meanwhile, fry the garlic in a frying pan and once golden add the tomatoes, puree, oregano, vinegar and sugar. Leave this to simmer gently for about 15 minute.

4.     Tear up the bread and a handful of pine nuts and whizz in a blender to make fine breadcrumbs. 

5.     All that is left is to assemble, starting with tomatoes, then a layer of aubergine, a handful of pine nuts, parmesan and then repeat. 

6.     Sprinkle the top with the breadcrumb mix and a good glug of olive oil and bake in the oven for 30 mins. 

7.     Scatter with fresh basil and another glug of olive oil.


Serves 4 people: 

2 aubergines

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

splash of red wine vinegar


tomato puree 

pinch of brown sugar

1 large garlic clove

200g of parmesan 

bag of pine nuts 

2 slices of stale bread for breadcrumbs

fresh basil

plenty of good Italian olive oil

salt & pepper

Words by Chloe Francklin, The Iris Letter February 2018.