I love food. I love growing, preparing, gifting, talking about and most definitely eating food.
Growing up, I was known for my love of it. My mum makes delicious home cooked meals and cakes and puddings for everyone she loves. Her mum did the same. My brother and I do it. In fact who am I kidding. It's ingrained into our whole family.
Food for me is so much more than the ingredients. The love and care that goes into cooking goes way beyond that. When my head is in the fridge, the smells and colours set off an all shouting, all flashing selection of thoughts and ideas, which involve ensuring the upcoming meal is really high up on the taste and nutrition stakes, incorporating my kids fussiness with secret-vegetable-adding-witchcraft and making sure it looks, smells and tastes delicious.
Saturdays have recently become a meal-creation day for me. Especially in the winter when the weather is soggy and my garden and allotment lay dormant. It's too early for most seeds to be planted, so January is the perfect time to prepare warming, tasty food to keep us well nourished through the colder months.
My sudden desire to make something yummy to eat means that I am often inspired by a single ingredient, soon realising that it's the only ingredient I have required for that recipe. I am regularly mocked for promising a meal that just isn't possible with the contents of our kitchen! Random "use everything up meals" are a regular occurrence in our house, even more so since prices and food waste have become such an issue. I'm sure those crazy little creations would be missed if I didn't cook weird stuff sometimes...
So this Saturday's creation began it's life as a couple of slightly squashy aubergines I had planned to add into a veggie lasagne the other day and forgot. My first thought was parmigiana, so this is the closest I could get to that with what I had available. My measurements are approximate as I'm a bit haphazard with my cooking and always forget to write it down.
THIS IS NOT A PARMIGIANA
2 x large aubergines, sliced longways, brushed with seasoned olive oil, griddled till they have a bit of colour
2 x large courgettes chopped quite small
1 x white onion, finely diced
4 x garlic cloves, finely chopped (I use a lot of garlic, so reduce this if you prefer less)
As much dried basil as you'd like to add. I added a tablespoon. Fresh basil would be much better...
1 x tin chopped tomatoes
1 x carton passata
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A decent glug of red wine (optional)
A really generous grating of parmesan to go on each layer of aubergine. I probably used around 75g in total
Salt and pepper according to your taste
First get the sauce going as it needs to be cooked for a while. Soften the onions, garlic and courgette for about five minutes in a big pan in some of the oil. Then add in the herbs, salt and pepper according to your tastes. Once the veg is a bit softer, add in the tomatoes and passata and the red wine. Leave to simmer on a low heat.
Griddle the aubergines until they have those lovely stripes on them. If you don't have a griddle pan, simply fry the slices or bake them flat in the oven till they go a bit crispy round the edges. Set them aside.
Spoon the sauce onto the bottom of a lasagne dish or similar. Then add a layer of aubergines and grate parmesan onto the aubergines. Repeat this until you have used it all up. Bake for about half an hour when you're ready for it, or cover, and store it in the fridge or freezer ready for a cold, dark evening when you get home and really don't want to cook.
Use any cheese, herbs, vegetables you have and enjoy. The beauty of it being a made up recipe is that you can make it up even more and add anything you like to it!
If you want to add some lentils to the sauce, it ups the nutritional content by adding protein and fibre and it will fill you up for longer
You could serve it with some crusty bread as a lunch, or you could serve it with some healthy protein and a big green salad as a really satisfying and filling meal
Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top to make it even tastier and to top up your healthy fats intake
Let me know if you make it and if you add anything random...Enjoy! x
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