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CHEESY AUBERGINE PARMIGIANO (VEG­E­TAR­IAN)

Serves 6 to 8 This is along the lines of a tra­di­tional parmigiano, but if you wish to layer dif­fer­ent veg­eta­bles such as cour­gettes, spinach or mush­rooms, you can cre­ate a de­li­cious veg­etable bake. It will only get bet­ter be­cause of all the nutri­ents you’ve packed in.

• 1 large brown onion, chopped • 1 clove gar­lic, minced • 2–3 tsp fresh rose­mary leaves • co­conut oil • 8 plum toma­toes, chopped • 400g cherry toma­toes, diced • 1 hand­ful fresh basil, chopped • 350g tomato pas­sata • salt and pep­per • 1 red chilli or cayenne pep­per

(op­tional) • 2 large aubergines, sliced

length­ways • 100g Parme­san, finely grated • 300g moz­zarella cheese, sliced

1. In a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat, add the onion, gar­lic, rose­mary and 1 tea­spoon of co­conut oil; fry un­til translu­cent.

2. Add the plum and cherry toma­toes, basil and pas­sata, and mix well. Cover with a lid and sim­mer for 1–1¼ hours. Sea­son to taste. Keep an eye on it. If it dries out, add a lit­tle wa­ter. The longer you cook any tomato-based dish, the sweeter and less acidic it be­comes. This helps you skip the trick of adding sugar to the tomato sauce. If you want a lit­tle heat, add a red chilli or a sprin­kle of cayenne pep­per.

3. In a fry­ing pan over medium to high heat, add 1 ta­ble­spoon of co­conut oil. Once the oil has heated, add the aubergine slices and fry for 3 min­utes a side. Aubergine absorbs oil, so don’t add more if the slices seem dry; if there is too much oil once it’s cooked it will be­come soggy. Once the aubergines are ready, set aside.

4. Pre­heat the oven to 180°C. To as­sem­ble the parmigiano, layer the in­gre­di­ents in an oven­proof lasagne dish. Start with the tomato sauce, then the aubergine slices, then the Parme­san and re­peat, end­ing with the tomato sauce. Top the dish evenly with the moz­zarella slices and a hand­ful of Parme­san. Pop it in the oven for 20 min­utes or un­til the cheese is melted and beau­ti­ful. Once it’s ready, al­low to cool for 10 min­utes be­fore serving. You can put some square pegs in round holes here by cut­ting it into rec­tan­gles and putting it in bowls.

Food tip: The tomato sauce from this dish is a great base and is good to have in your reper­toire. It can be used as the base for a pasta or lasagne, on top of scram­bled eggs for break­fast or to add a bit of heat to a Mex­i­can dish. You can add a bit of sweet­ness to bal­ance it nat­u­rally by grat­ing in some car­rots.

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