Melanzane Alla Parmigiana

By Sophie Dahl

The Grocer is an Italian cafe and deli near where I live, owned and run by Marcello Cinelli and his partner Kim Bates. Marcello cooks consistently amazing, fresh, innovative food and I have wanted his recipe for Melanzane for some time. Now I have it. And so do you.

  • Serves: 6


  • 5 x Medium Aubergines
  • 5 tbspn extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 x 125g balls buffalo mozzarella – torn into pieces
  • 75g parmesan cheese – grated

For the tomato sauce

  • 4 tbspn extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 x white onions – chopped
  • 4 x garlic cloves – crushed
  • 4 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
  • Bunch fresh basil
  • A little sugar
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper


  1. Pre heat oven to 180C / Gas mark 4
  2. Firstly prepare the aubergines. Slice lengthways into thick slices – you should have 5 or 6 slices from each aubergine.
  3. Now make the tomato sauce. Pan fry the white onions and garlic in the extra virgin olive oil until soft and golden. Add all of the tomatoes and simmer for around 40 minutes until rich and thick. Season well with salt and pepper, adding a little sugar to taste. Tear the fresh basil and add to the sauce.
  4. Pan fry the aubergines in the extra virgin olive oil until golden and tender.
  5. Layer the aubergine slices into the base of an ovenproof dish, cover with a third of the tomato sauce. Dot a third of the torn mozzarella over the sauce and then about 25g of the parmesan over that. Repeat twice more to create three layers in the dish.
  6. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until golden and bubbling on top. Serve with mixed leaves.