Once, a long time ago, on our last holiday before the kids were born, we went to Crete, where we ate a delicious baked aubergine dish that we christened Sitia Aubergines, after the town where we ate them. We tried many times to replicate the oily, tomatoey, garlicky delectableness, with the soft aubergines that melted in our mouths and the delicious sauce that just cried out to be mopped up by the hunks of fresh Greek bread. But we never quite got there. Recently I tried again, and although we consumed that original dish getting on for 24 years ago, I think it was something like this. As with most Greek cooking, copious amounts of olive oil help to achieve a good level of authenticity. Anyway, it was very tasty and perfect with pasta. Or just with hunks of bread reheated th next day for lunch .
2 large aubergines
Olive oil, more than you would think sensible
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tin chopped tomatoes or Passata
Squirt of tomato purée
Dash balsamic vinegarTsp sugar
Some red peppers from a jar in oil if you like
Fresh basil if you have some
Slice the aubergines lengthwise to about 1/2 cm thickness.
Spread the slices on a tray and sprinkle with salt.
Set aside for about 30 minutes to allow the moisture to run out.
Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and mince the garlic, then fry them gently in olive oil to soften, adding the dried herbs. Add the tomatoes, purée, balsamic vinegar, swish out the tin with water and add that too, add the peppers if using, then season with plenty of pepper and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Purée with a hand blender.
Heat a good glug of olive oil in a heavy frying pan, mop the aubergine slices with kitchen towel and fry them gently in batches until lightly browned.
Spoon a layer of tomato sauce in to a large shallow oven dish, top with a layer of aubergines and shred some fresh basil over it if using. Repeat these layers, ending with sauce. You can top with some torn up mozzarella at this stage, but it is great without.
Bake in a 190c oven for about half an hour, until the sauce is bubbling and the aubergines are nice and soft.