2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 thyme sprigs
8 large sage leaves, finely chopped
4 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp golden caster or granulated sugar
6 large aubergines, sliced lengthways as thinly as you can
100g vegetarian-style parmesan, finely grated
85g white breadcrumbs
50g pine nuts
2 x 125g balls vegetarian-style mozzarella, torn into small chunks
handful basil leaves
1.Heat the oil in a large frying pan (or wide saucepan), add the garlic, thyme and sage, and cook gently for a few mins. Tip in the tomatoes, vinegar and sugar, and gently simmer for 20-25 mins until thickened a little.
2.Meanwhile, heat a griddle (or frying) pan. Brush the aubergine slices on both sides with olive oil, then griddle in batches. You want each slice softened and slightly charred, so don’t have the heat too high or the aubergine will char before softening. Remove to a plate as you go.
3.In a large baking dish, spread a little of the tomato sauce over the base. Mix 25g of the Parmesan with the breadcrumbs and pine nuts, and set aside. Top the sauce with a layer or two of aubergine slices, then season well. Spoon over a bit more sauce, then scatter over some mozzarella, Parmesan and basil leaves. Repeat, layering up – and finish with the last of the tomato sauce. Scatter over the cheesy breadcrumbs and chill for up to 24 hrs, or bake straight away.
4.Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Bake for 30-40 mins until the top is crisp and golden, and the tomato sauce bubbling. Rest for 10 mins, then scatter with basil leaves and serve with salad and focaccia (see ‘goes well with’).