Aubergines Gratinees

An excellent vegetarian dish, Aubergines Gratinees (oh-bair-jeen GRAH-tee-nay) can be served either as a main course on its own or as an accompaniment to meat or chicken. The tomato sauce can be prepared well in advance and the dish put together an hour before it is required.

4 SERVINGS

4 aubergines

1 tablespoon salt flour

3 fl. oz. vegetable oil

5 oz. cheese, grated

1 oz. white breadcrumbs

1 oz. butter

1 ½ oz. butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 tablespoons flour

12 oz. canned tomatoes

2 teaspoons tomatoe puree

½ teaspoon dried basil freshly ground black pepper

4 teaspoon salt

Slice the aubergines into rounds |-inch thick. Sprinkle the slices with salt and leave on a plate to drain for 30 minutes.

For the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onions and fry over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute.

Strain the liquid from the tomatoes and stir into the onion mixture. Add the tomatoes, tomatoe puree, basil, 4 grindings of pepper and the salt. Bring to the boil stirring all the time. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer the sauce for 15-20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to moderate 350 °F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C).

Dry the aubergine slices with kitchen paper towels. Dip the slices into the flour to coat well. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying-pan over high heat. When the oil is very hot put in the slices of aubergine, a few at a time. Turn them over with kitchen tongs after a few seconds. When well fried, remove, drain on kitchen paper towels and keep hot until all the slices are fried. Add more oil to the frying-pan if necessary.

Put a layer of sauce in the bottom of a medium-sized ovenproof casserole. Sprinkle with some of the cheese and then put in a layer of aubergine slices.

Continue with these layers until the ingredients are used. Finish with a layer of tomato sauce. Sprinkle with cheese and breadcrumbs. Dot with a little butter. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

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