Back in late 2011, I decided that I was going to eat less meat. So far, so good; I’ve been having two completely vegetarian days a week for the past while. There’s a wealth of delicious vegetarian recipes out there, we really are spoiled for choice so cutting out meat every now and then is no great sacrifice.
This is my take on the classic Italian dish Melanzane al Parmigiana. By adding extra vegetables and the mozzarella it made a hearty and tasty dinner for two with some lunch-sized leftovers. This could easily be stretched to a dinner for a family of four with the addition of a big salad and some garlic bread.
1 Large Aubergine – sliced lengthways about 5 mm thick
1 Courgette – sliced in half then lengthways about 5 mm thick
1 Large Red Pepper – sliced into strips
1 Onion – finely diced
3 cloves garlic – crushed
Fresh basil – finely chopped
1 Jar Passata
1 Vegetable Stock Cube
1 Ball Buffalo Mozzarella
1 Egg – whisked
85g Parmesan cheese – grated
Salt & Pepper
- Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/Gas 6.
- In a pan heat 2 tbsp of olive oil, add the onion and garlic and fry until soft.
- Add the passata and stock to the pan and let simmer for 2-3 mins.
- Add the basil, season to your own taste and a splash of red wine, simmer for 5 mins.
- Meanwhile, heat a griddle pan until extremely hot (if you don’t have a griddle pan you could just as easily grill the vegetables), brush the veg with a little oil and add to the griddle pan.
- Cook vegetables, turning them, until browned and cooked through, between 5-7 mins.
- Lift veg onto kitchen paper and cook next batch.
- When all the veg are cooked layer them onto the bottom of an ovenproof dish, similar to building a lasagne, with the veg substituting the pasta, spread ⅓ of the tomato sauce over this and sprinkle with some parmesan, you should have enough for three layers.
- On the top layer add the torn up buffalo mozzarella, the remainder of your parmesan and pour over the whisked egg as evenly as possible.
- Bake for 25 mins or until the topping is golden.
I served a big helping of this with some spinach on the side and was stuffed. Yes, the cheese isn’t necessarily the healthiest option but, with no carbs or meat, I felt positively saintly. You could leave out the mozzarella altogether if you’re watching your waistline. I had pine nuts to add into the layers but I forgot them, I think that, toasted, they would add a nice bit of crunch if you’re so inclined. Another option would be to add some chilli flakes to the tomato sauce if you like your food a little spicy. Buon appetito!