Ursula Ferrigno’s Aubergine and Parmesan Bake

An utterly classic Italian dish, rooted in her family’s heritage, Aubergine and Parmesan Bake is given a delicious twist by food writer and chef Ursula Ferrigno.

Ursula says: “One of my all-time favourite recipes, my father used to ask me to make this whenever he was coming to stay. I feel particularly proud of this recipe; it is different from most and it is firmly rooted as my family’s heritage. It is a labour of love to make, but worth the extra effort. There is quite a bit of frying, so throw open your doors and windows, get some dramatic music on and enjoy the whole process!”

Aubergine & Parmesan Bake (Parmigiana di Melanzana)



  • 23-cm/9-in. springform cake pan or 20 x 20-cm/8 x 8-in. deep square baking dish


  • 2 firm and glossy aubergines thinly sliced (see Note below)
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 900 g fresh ripe tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • very generous handful of fresh basil leaves torn
  • 2 tablespoons Italian ‘00’ flour
  • 4-5 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 350 g mozzarella cheese sliced
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Sprinkle the aubergine with salt, place in a colander, cover with a plate and weigh down. Leave for 25–30 minutes.
  • In a medium sized saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, add the onion and cook gently until softened. Add the tomatoes, garlic and seasoning and simmer for 30 minutes. I usually add a few of the basil leaves at this point too, to add more flavour to the sauce. Please keep an eye on the liquid content of the sauce as it needs to be fairly concentrated. Adjust the seasoning as needed – this sauce very much depends on the quality of the tomatoes so will need tasting to check.
  • Rinse the aubergine slices and pat dry on paper towels. Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Whisk the eggs in another shallow bowl, season with salt and pepper and add the Parmesan (reserving a little for a garnish). Dip the aubergine slices in the flour.
  • Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan/skillet over a medium heat. Dip the aubergines, one at a time, in the egg mixture and fry for 2–3 minutes on each side until golden and like soft pillows. Drain the slices on paper towels and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/gas 6.
  • Assemble the dish in the springform pan or baking dish. Place a layer of aubergines on the bottom and top with one third of the sauce, mozzarella and basil. Add the remaining layers in the same order, pressing firmly after the completion of each layer, finishing with a layer of aubergine slices. Sprinkle over the reserved Parmesan to finish. Bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes until golden.


It is important that the aubergine is sliced as thinly as possible as it needs to be able to cook quickly.

Cucina di Amalfi

Recipe from Cucina di Amalfi by Ursula Ferrigno, published by Ryland Peters & Small (£20). Photography by Nassima Rothacker © Ryland Peters & Small.

See also: Juicy Garlic Shrimps With European Rice Recipe


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