So, having recently found a vegetarian parmesan substitute, here, as promised, is a fancy-schmancy application, courtesy of River Cottage Veg Everyday. This is real comfort food, and super simple. It does take a fair while to prepare the aubergines, though, so maybe one for this weekend...
4 medium aubergines
4-5 tblsp olive oil
2 balls mozzarella, torn into pieces
About 35g vegetarian parmesan
For the tomato sauce:
2 tblsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 x 400g tins plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
(Hugh says 4 tins, but I was making it for my Mum who is quite sensitive to the acid in tomatoes, so I made less sauce, and the recipe still really worked well)
1 bay leaf
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Trim aubergines and slice lengthways into 3-5mm thick slices. Layer the slices in a colander and sprinkle each layer with a little salt. Leave to draw the juices for about an hour.
2. Meanwhile, fry off onions and garlic in olive oil for about 10minutes until soft. Add tomatoes and bay leaf, bring to a simmer and simmer briskly for about half an hour until the sauce is thick and rich.
3. Rinse the aubergine slices and dry thoroughly with a clean tea towel. Fry in olive oil in a hot frying pan for about 2 minutes each side until golden and tender. You will probably need to do this in more batches than you imagined (unless you have an industrial-sized frying pan).
4. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Layer a third of the aubergine slices over the bottom of an ovenproof dish, about 25cm x 20cm and around 5cm deep (or whichever dish you use for making lasagne, I suppose). Cover the aubergine with a third of the sauce, dot with a third of the mozzarella, and psrinkle with a third of the grated parmesan. Repeat this process to give you three layers.
5. Bake for 30-40minutes, until bubbling and golden on top and serve with a nice side salad, and some warm ciabatta. I served mine with a salad of equal parts rocket and coriander, a handful of cooked bulghar wheat, and some chopped tomato.