Whilst in London my brother Greg took us to his favourite haunt – Franco Manco, a trendy little pizzeria in Chiswick who’s specialty is slow-risen sourdough pizza bases baked in a wood burning brick oven. They also serve great tapas, olives and a large range of organic wines. This recipe is a recreation of an entreé we eat there from memory using fresh organic mini eggplant from my garden, and with a includes tips from my Mum who also had to endure Franco Manco when she visited London. The recipe below is for a smallish serving, so double or quadruple for a big gathering.
3 small eggplants, sliced into 1 cm slices
1 ball of mozzarella, sliced
knob of butter
splash of olive oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 small very ripe tomato, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 cup tomato passata
splash of red wine
1 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp brown sugar
small bunch of fresh oregano, chopped
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese, finely grated
Heat a non-stick frypan and cook the eggplant stripes until browned (mum reckons not to use oil, but I used canola oil spray). Layer these on the bottom of a flat oven-proof dish.
Preheat oven to 200°. In a saucepan over a very low heat, melt the butter with a splash of oil to prevent it burning. Add the onion and garlic and cook slowly until softened. Add the tomato and bay leaf and cook until soft. Stir in the passata, tomato paste and a splash of red wine, and cook at a low heat until thickened- about 10 minutes. Stir in the oregano and add sugar salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the sauce over the eggplant slices, top with the mozzarella slices and parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes, and finish off under a grill until the cheese is browned.