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Grace's Eggplant Parmi With Brussel Sprout Hazelnut Salad

Grace Head Image
With origins in the Melbourne fine dining scene, Grace has grown and developed over the years to focus on catering - she says "Serving and entertaining are what bring me and my family the greatest joy... Whether it is pouring wine for friends, seating guests at the best table in the house, designing a menu for someone special day or simply taking a coffee out to someone in the sun."⁠ Grace has chose these dishes to pair with the finesse of the 2015 La Castellada Friulano and freshness of the 2021 Lucy M. 'Dynamique' Cabernet Franc.

“I am a home cook and mother of two who has been working with food for the last ten years. I don’t know where my love of food or cooking came from, but I know that all of my greatest memories are ones where food and wine have been at the centre.”

“I spent my early twenties in Melbourne working with the most incredible group of Italians to open Trattoria Emilia. Here I learned so much about food and wine, but also about quality produce and simplicity when it comes to flavour. Working in fine dining is hard work but it is also incredibly rewarding. A year after I had my son the late nights and long hours of working as a restaurant manager led our family to move back to Sydney to be close to our family and friends.”

“Last year during the start of the pandemic, inspired by other cooks and chefs, I delivered dinner parcels over Sydney as a way to connect with family and new food friends when we couldn’t all be together. After this, I threw myself more into catering. Serving and entertaining are what bring me and my family the greatest joy. I have always loved the act of serving. Whether it is pouring wine for friends, seating guests at the best table in the house, designing a menu for someone special day or simply taking a coffee out to someone in the sun.”

You can follow Grace’s story on Instagram here.


This recipe is all about simplicity and care which are the pillars of cooking to me. I find the slightly laborious nature of building this dish therapeutic and it is a favourite among my family and friends. It is a fantastic summer dish as both tomatoes and eggplants are at their best. It is comfort food pure and simple, the leftovers are also delicious slathered on a panini. I crumb my eggplant with a light layer of breadcrumbs which goes against traditionalists but gives a lovely decadent touch.

We also chose to pair this salad against Anton’s 2021 Lucy M Dynamic Cabernet Franc.

2 eggplants

1 egg, lightly whisked

1 cup toasted breadcrumbs

2 cups basic tomato sugo

100g fresh scamorza, sliced finely

100g mozzarella, sliced finely

1/4 cup finely grated parmigiano reggiano

1 lemon

1 bunch basil leaves

Extra virgin olive oil

Start by slicing your eggplants into rounds roughly 2cm wide. Simple slice the whole eggplant by the width it doesn’t matter if your slices are various sizes of circles. Salt generously and leave on some paper towel for around 20min to excrete excess moisture. Pat dry when water droplets have formed over the eggplant.

Set up your egg in one bowl and in another mix your breadcrumbs with the zest of your lemon and a good pinch of flaky sea salt. Dip each piece of eggplant in the egg wash followed by the breadcrumb mix. Set aside ready to fry. Repeat with remaining eggplant.

In a deep saucepan heat two fingers worth of olive oil or rice bran oil over medium heat. To test if oil is ready for frying drop your smallest piece of eggplant in if it instantly bubbles and rises to the top the oil is ready. You don’t want it smoking though, that means the oil is too hot.

Fry eggplant in batches, turning in oil if necessary to make sure they are all evenly golden. Remove from oil when done and give a quick pat with a paper towel to remove excess oil.

In a bowl toss together your two kinds of mozzarella. I like to use a half-half ratio to get smokiness into the dish but not so much that it is overpowering the delicate flavours of the tomato and eggplant.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. In a deep baking tray (or individual ramekins) smother a tomato sugo on the bottom of the dish. Starting with a piece of eggplant you want to build your parmigiana into servings. I prefer each parmigiana to have roughly 4 layers, a repetition of eggplant, tomato sugo, basil leaf, and mozzarella. Repeating until your final layer of mozzarella mix, I then like to sprinkle a little parmesan over before finishing with a few extra basil leaves.

Squeeze a little of the leftover lemon over your little towers of parmigiana and cook in the oven for about 30-40min until the cheese is golden and eggplant is steaming hot.


This salad is something I throw together often. It has all the things you want in a salad; crunch, freshness, a hint of creaminess, and loads of texture. When Elliot suggested the Friulano to accompany this salad I was really excited. It’s so plush and highlights the nuttiness of the salad with the delicate richness of the parmigiano.

We paired this dish with the 2015 La Castellada Friulano.

1/4 green cabbage

1 fennel bulb

6 large brussels sprout

Handful of mint

Handful of parsley

100g shaved parmigiano

1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, some whole, some crushed

Using a mandolin slice your cabbage, fennel, and brussels sprout into paper-thin slices. Your mix should resemble a slaw. If you don’t have a mandolin make sure you use a nice sharp knife and shave your greens as thin as possible. You don’t need a fancy mandolin, mine is a cheap one from Daiso that has been my trusty companion for a number of years now.

Chop your mint and parsley and toss through your salad.

In a bowl whisk together hazelnut oil, lemon juice, and honey with a good pinch of salt and a crack of pepper. Taste and adjust accordingly, you want it on the sweeter side.

When ready to serve, toss through parmigiano, hazelnuts, and dressing.