Pic of Aubergine parmigiana with watercress and fennel salad

Aubergine parmigiana with watercress and fennel salad

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Vegetarian mains

Aubergine parmigiana with watercress and fennel salad

Main Serves 2 45 min
Clearly Italian in origin, this dish is a staple in almost every pub and bar in Australia, much like our treatment of lasagne. They often make it with chicken but the veggie option is always with aubergines (or eggplants down under). It's a more authentic version and more likely to be the true source of the dish. Although versions range from the scandalous to the sublime, it is relatively simple in its essence and relies more on good ingredients than it does culinary craftsmanship.


  • 2 aubergines
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • olive oil
  • 400g passata
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 ball mozzarella
  • 25g Italian style cheese
  • 40g breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • 1 lemon
  • 50g watercress
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • salt and pepper
Image of Aubergine parmigiana with watercress and fennel salad


Prep time: 20 min
Cooking time: 25 min
  • Step 1

    Remove and discard the green tops from the aubergines. Slice them widthways into 1cm thick discs. Season them lightly with salt and keep to one side. Peel and finely slice the red onion.
  • Step 2

    Peel and finely slice or crush the garlic clove. Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the saucepan. Gently fry the onion for about 10 minutes until starting to soften. Meanwhile heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the frying pan.
  • Step 3

    Lay in as many aubergine slices as you can. Fry until coloured on both sides, 4-5 minutes. Put to one side and repeat in batches until they are all cooked. Aubergines like to soak up olive oil so you'll need to add a little more to the pan as you go to keep them frying.
  • Step 4

    Add the garlic to the onions. Cook for a further 2 minutes before adding the passata. Simmer for 2-3 minutes to heat the passata. Check the seasoning, adjust with salt and pepper to taste. Preheat your oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.
  • Step 5

    Cut each tomato into 6 slices. Drain the mozzarella and tear the ball into 12 chunks. Mix the breadcrumbs with 25g of Italian style cheese and 1 tablespoon of oil. Lay half of the aubergines into the dish.
  • Step 6

    Dot half of the pesto across the aubergines, followed by half of the sliced tomatoes, half the mozzarella and half the tomato sauce. Repeat the layering process to fill the tray. Top with the cheese and breadcrumb mix.
  • Step 7

    Bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling. Meanwhile wash and dry the watercress. Trim away the tops from the fennel. Cut it in half and cut away the bottom root core with a small v-shaped cut. Slice each half as thinly as you can lengthways.
  • Step 8

    Dress the watercress and fennel with a squeeze of lemon and a little olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

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