Aubergines in tomato sauce (a.k.a. melanzane alla parmigiana)

Tonight was an opportunity to try our take on a classic Italian aubergine dish ‘melanzane alla parmigiana’.   There are probably several recipes out there but essentially they all entail grilling slices of aubergines, layering them with tomato sauce and then topping it with fresh mozzarella and Parmesan cheese before placing under a hot grill.   That is pretty much what we did and the personalization comes with each individuals preferred version of the tomato sauce.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 2 large aubergines – cut into 5 cm thick slices
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes (400 gms)
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2-3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano (optional – we have some growing in our herb patch)
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 3/4 tsp Balsamic vinegar
  • Small handful of fresh basil and parsley chopped
  • Handful grated Parmesan chesse
  • 125 gm fresh mozzarella cheese sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Enough for 2 mains or 4 sides

How do I make it?

First rub the aubergine slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place on a griddle pan and cook till they begin to caramelize – keep aside till assembly.   For the sauce, heat some olive oil in a pan and saute the garlic for a minute before adding the red chilli flakes, chopped onion and bay leaves.  Continue to cook on medium heat till the onions are translucent – sprinkle the dried oregano and fresh oregano if you have it.   Add the chopped tomatoes and a pinch of sugar with around 200 ml of water.    Cook on low heat till the sauce thickens.  Adjust the seasoning, add the balsamic vinegar, garnish with fresh basil and parsley and then turn off the heat.

To assemble the dish place alternating layers of aubergine and sauce and finish with sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a layer of fresh mozzarella cheese.  Place under grill at 220 degrees Centigrade till the cheese melts and forms a nice golden crust.  Cut into portions and serve hot.  Enjoy.

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Gluten free spaghetti without sauce

Ever get tired of eating pasta or spaghetti with a tomato or cream based sauce – here’s an alternative which I personally love as it is simple to make and tastes great.

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What do I need to make it?

  • Handful of gluten free spaghetti cooked and drained
  • 1/2 courgette halved and sliced
  • 1 stick of celery chopped into bite size pieces
  • 4-5 button mushrooms quartered
  • 2 green chillies
  • Small onion/shallot sliced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

1 large serving

How do I make it?

Heat a heavy bottom pan and add olive oil and garlic – saute for a couple of minutes.   Add the sliced onions, chopped green chilli and celery and cook for 5 minutes till the onions go translucent.   Add the remaining vegetables and cook for 4-5 minutes.   Season with dried Italian herb, salt and pepper.   Add the cooked spaghetti and give it a good toss.   Finish with garnish of fresh chopped parsley, Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.