Stuffed aubergines may sound a little bit dull, but after they've been cooked almost to a pulp and have taken on the taste of the anchovies in the process, they make an exceptional antipasti. The filling can be varied - you could even incorporate pieces of chopped bacon or minced lamb if you're an anchovy-hater.
4 large aubergines, halved and the flesh scooped, or cut out and chopped
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2tsp chopped thyme or oregano
3tbsp olive oil
6 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and roughly chopped
8-10 good quality anchovy fillets, either from a jar or a can, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
40g fresh white breadcrumbs
1tbsp freshly grated parmesan
1tbsp chopped parsley
30g melted butter
Gently cook the onion, garlic and thyme in the olive oil for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add the chopped aubergine and tomato, season, cover with a lid and continue cooking for 8-10 minutes, stirring every so often until the aubergine is tender and starting to fall apart. Stir in the anchovies and mix well, then spoon into the aubergine halves. Meanwhile, in a food processor, mix the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley and butter to a fine crumb, or until well mixed, then spoon evenly over the aubergines, and preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Cook the aubergines for 30-40 minutes, covering them with foil if they begin to colour too much. Serve hot or cold.