Wednesday, 25 February 2009



I have come home from tour and ingested so many chicken nugget happy meals that I am practically crying out for some vegetarian options (sorry dad). So after what felt like three days waiting in line at Tesco (god help me, but every little does indeed help) I had a sack full of vegetables and only a vague idea of what to do with them. So this was born.

Melanzana Parmigiana (sorry Italy)

1 Aubergine cut into slices lengthways
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 packet of peas and runner beans
1 bag of spinach
3 cloves of garlic
1 onion
1 red pepper cut into strips
a pinch or two each of chilli powder and ground nutmeg
dried oregano (not too much as it can be quite over-powering)
as much parmesan as possible (apparently this kind of culinary instruction leads to obsession)
olive oil
Jamie Oliver also recommends mozzarella and breadcrumbs fried in oil with oregano for a topping

- Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil and fry them in a griddle pan until they are charred with black stripes on both sides. This doesn't take long at all and gives a nice smoky flavour. When they are done (its easier to do this in batches) leave them aside on a piece of kitchen towel.
- throw the red pepper onto the griddle pan and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and let it blister and soften for a couple of minutes on a high heat.
- Make a tomato sauce by frying onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent then sprinkle over some chilli powder (real chillies chopped finely if you have any), nutmeg and dried oregano. Add the tinned tomatoes and a half a tin each of water to sluice out any remaining sauce clinging to the sides of the can.
- let this sauce reduce a bit and then add the green veg and leave it to cook for about 10 minutes throwing the spinach in at the end so that it wilts but doesn't get too soggy. When the sauce is ready take it off the heat.
- spread a thinnish layer of sauce in the bottom of a ceramic, oven-ready dish. Cover that with a layer of aubergine slices, a layer of torn basil leaves and a layer of grated parmesan. Cover this with another layer of sauce and repeat until the aubergines are used up, at which point I finished with a top layer of peppers, basil and lots more cheese. This is where Jamie Oliver's additions would be a nice touch but budget dictates this kitchen and I left it at that.
- bake in the oven for 25/30 minutes at 180c.
-Any leftovers are great on toast the next day, by which time I had regained normal appetite and carbs were necessary one more.

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