Monday, 15 April 2013

aubergine melanzane

I wanted to share this recipe for my vegetarian cousin because I think that vegetarians sometimes suffer the misfortune of being fed bland food because the thought of cooking for a vegetarian scares some people. I have to confess that most of the time I prefer vegetarian food, the thought of living without vegetables for me would be unbearable, living without meat however I could cope. I think that in Britain we are fixated with our meat and two veg that we often don't see the bigger picture that meat is a luxury that should be enjoyed every once in a while, and if an animal has had to die for our glutinous ways then at least make sure it has had a great life before d day. I digress, the point that I'm trying to make is that vegetarian food does not necessarily have to be for vegetarians only, believe me even meat eaters will love this dish, aubergines, gooey cheese and my fool proof universal tomato sauce. Give it a go, and let those poor piggies breath a sigh of relief, if only for a day.

You will need:(for the sauce)
600g of  halved cherry tomatoes
50g of chopped garlic
4 tbsp of great quality olive oil
1 tsp of black pepper
2 tsp of maldon salt
1/4 tsp of chilli flakes
1 sprig of fresh oregano
1 tbsp of sugar
1 tsp of balsamic vinegar
15 Torn basil leaves

For the aubergines:
4 large aubergines
the juice of a lemon
Maldon salt to season
cracked black pepper to season
olive oil to drizzle

You will also need:
2 large buffalo mozzarella balls
100g of pecorino cheese (grated)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Slice the aubergines into cm thick rounds and lay them out onto a baking tray, it is ok if they overlap slightly. Drizzle each layer with a generous amount of olive oil, squeeze over the lemon juice and season well. Cook in the oven for roughly 20-30 minutes, I usually turn them through the cooking to get an even browning and if one browns quicker then I remove it and place in on a plate for later.

For the sauce I start by place the oil, chopped oregano, garlic, chilli flakes, sugar, salt and pepper in a pan that is not turned on, I then turn the pan onto a low heat to let the garlic soften and mellow, this usually takes a couple of minutes, once the harsh smell of bitter garlic has softened I then add the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar then place a lid onto your pan, this will help the tomatoes to break down. When the tomatoes have started to break apart help them a little by mashing them with a wooden spoon. 
 Finally turn off the heat and add the torn basil to preserve the freshness of the herb.
To assemble the melanzane place a few tablespoons of sauce in the bottom of a pie, gratin, or casserole dish, tope this with a layer of aubergines, then a few more tablespoons of the sauce, then a few slices of fresh mozzarella and a sprinkling of pecorino. Continue with this order and when you have used up all the aubergine top with a little more sauce and a little more mozzarella and pecorino. Place the dish back into the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and bubbly. Serve with plenty of great bread for mopping!!

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