LABOUR OF LOVE
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.