The people who run the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen (OTK) are a prolific bunch. It’s where globally renowned Israeli-born British chef Yotam Ottolenghi works on his column for the Guardian, as well as cookbooks and TV shows, alongside a team of people headed up by Bahraini-born chef Noor Murad. Murad joined the OTK in 2016, and she and Ottolenghi have just released their second cookbook, Extra Good Things.

Like their inaugural book, Shelf Love – which was all about raiding the pantry and freezer to create easily adapted dishes – this cookbook is about making your life a little bit easier and doing a lot with little effort.

The recipes in Extra Good Things all include an ingredient, a sauce, a condiment, a flavoured crunch or a sprinkle you can use to add some oomph to your next meal – “cooking it forward”, so to speak.

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In the case of this recipe, parmigiana pie, that additional element is tomato sauce. Make extra and “use this spiced sauce for pasta bakes and tomato-based stews, or crack in a couple of eggs to make a shakshuka,” the OTK suggests in the introduction. (Try it with this OTK sweet potato shakshuka with sriracha butter and pickled onions).

This recipe is a take on the Italian-American eggplant parmigiana. The breaded aubergine, tomato sauce and cheese-layered classic gets the Ottolenghi treatment with an added crunch in the topping: kataifi pastry (or what’s called “string” pastry).

“Feel free to use filo instead and thinly slice it into julienne strips using scissors. This pie requires a little bit of love to make, but is well worth the effort for an impressive meatless centrepiece.”

You can make a big batch of the tomato sauce up to three days ahead and keep it refrigerated in a sealed container.

Parmigiana pie with tomato sauce

Prep time: 35 minutes

Cook time: 2 hours
Serves 4

1kg eggplants, trimmed and cut lengthways into 1–1.5cm-thick slices (about 4–5 per eggplant)
70g plain flour
2 large eggs plus 3 large yolks
2 tbsp milk or water
225g fine dried breadcrumbs (we use Paxo)
105ml olive oil
40g kataifi pastry, defrosted and roughly cut into 2–3cm lengths
75g pecorino romano (or parmesan), finely grated
300g buffalo mozzarella, drained of any water and thinly sliced
Salt and black pepper

Tomato sauce
120ml olive oil
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped (180g)
8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 tsp Aleppo chilli
2 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 ½ tbsp ground cumin
2 tins of plum tomatoes (800g), crushed by hand

2 tsp caster sugar

30g fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 200°C fan. Line two large baking trays with baking parchment.

Toss the eggplants in a large bowl with 3¾ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper.

Put the flour into a shallow dish. Put the eggs and yolks into a separate dish with the milk or water and whisk together well. Put the breadcrumbs into a third dish with 1¼ teaspoons of salt, mixing to combine.

Working with one slice at a time, coat the eggplant in the flour, shaking off the excess, followed by the egg wash, then the breadcrumbs. Transfer to your lined trays and continue with the rest. Drizzle the slices all over with 2 tablespoons of the oil per tray and bake for 15 minutes. Switch the trays around, then bake for 15 minutes more, or until nicely golden. Remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 180°C fan.

Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Put the oil into a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until softened and lightly coloured. Add the garlic and spices and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute more, then add the tinned tomatoes, sugar, 400ml of water, 1¾ teaspoons of salt and a good grind of pepper. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down to medium and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly. Stir in the coriander, then measure out 700g of sauce (you’ll use this to build the pie). Keep the rest in the pan, to warm up when serving.

In a bowl, toss together the kataifi, half the pecorino and the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil.

Next, assemble the pie. Line a 23cm springform cake tin with a piece of baking parchment large enough to cover the base and sides. Cover the base with a third of the eggplant slices (cutting them to fit, as needed). Top with a third of the sauce, a third of the mozzarella and a third of the remaining pecorino. Continue in this way with the remaining eggplant, sauce and cheeses. Lastly, top evenly with the kataifi mixture and bake for 35 minutes. Turn the heat up to 200°C fan and bake for 15–20 minutes more, or until nicely golden on top. Remove from the oven and leave to set for about 30 minutes.

Remove the outer ring of the tin and use the paper to help you lift the pie onto a board. Heat up the extra sauce and serve the pie warm, or at room temperature, with the extra sauce alongside.

This is an extract from Extra Good Things by Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad, Ebury Press, $49.99. Buy it here.

Yotam Ottolenghi will bring his Flavour of Life tour to Australia in 2023. Details are here.

Looking for more recipe inspiration? Check out Broadsheet’s recipe hub..