4 aubergines (eggplant)
Vegetable oil for frying
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
225g of canned plum tomatoes
1 slice of white sourdough bread – about 40g
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp of chopped flat leaf parsley
A small pinch chilli (chilli) flakes
1 tbsp of dried breadcrumbs
Remove the ends of the aubergines and cut them in half lengthwise. (You can keep these on for the look of the dish or use the smaller bits for a ratatouille or a frittata.) Sprinkle the cut sides with salt and leave them to drain, cut side down, on a wooden board for about 1 hour. When the time is up, dry them thoroughly with kitchen paper.
Pour enough vegetable oil into a frying pan to come about 2cm up the side of the pan. Heat the oil and when hot, slide in the aubergine halves, skin side down. Fry for 5 minutes and then turn the halves over and fry for about 2-3 minutes until the flesh begins to become golden. Lift the halves out with a fish slice and place them on kitchen paper, cut side down.
Heat the oven to 180°C Fan/200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
Now prepare the stuffing. Gently sauté the shallot with a pinch of salt in 1.5 tbsp of the olive oil for about 5 minutes. While the shallot is frying, scoop out the flesh from the aubergine halves, leaving about 1.5cm of flesh all the way round. Chop the flesh, add to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes, mixing frequently. Lift the tomatoes out of their juice, roughly chop them and add to the pan. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Meanwhile, break up the bread into small pieces, place in a bowl and pour the tomato juice over. Leave for some 5 minutes and then mix in the garlic, parsley, chilli and about 1.5 tbsp of the remaining oil. Add the cooked aubergine flesh mixture and stir well, using a fork, which will more easily break up all the bits of bread. Taste and add salt to your liking.
Brush a baking sheet with a little olive oil and add the aubergine halves. Fill the halves with the stuffing, sprinkle with the dried breadcrumbs and drizzle with the remaining oil. Place the tray in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until a light crust has formed on the top of the stuffing. Serve hot, but not straight from the oven, or at room temperature.