I first has this dish with melted Manchego cheese which I wanted to try out of curiosity.
I had always eaten Manchego like Parmesan – shaves of it crumbling off onto my plate and savouring the sharp and very piquant flavour of it.
Well, for this dish they used a very young cheese and I tried a slither of it raw – unutterably dull and flabby. Melted, however, it blended beautifully with the saltiness of the Serrano and the peppery aubergine. Here’s my version at any rate. Using Mozzarella is just as good, if not better.
TIP I’ve never done the whole salting an aubergine for half an hour in a colander to get rid of the bitter juices. It’s made no difference to the finished dish at all.
Serves 2 as a starter
1 small aubergine, sliced into 6 rounds
1 tsp paprika
squeeze of lemon juice
six thin slices of Mozzarella (not Buffalo)
4 tbs olive oil
a little sea salt
6 thin slices of Serrano ham
rocket to decorate
extra virgin olive oil
Heat a frying pan and pour in the oil. When very hot fry the aubergines on both sides till nicely browned. Don’t disturb the slices in the pan. It normally takes two minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the aubergine. Dust with paprika and then add a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of sea salt and pepper.
Transfer onto some kitchen towel to absorb the oil. Turn on the grill. Place some foil into the grill pan and place the aubergine, topped with Serrano and finally the cheese and grill till bubbling.
Arrange on a plate with some rocket leaves, drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil and serve with some really good sourdough. Oh and don’t forget the Rioja.