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.

Gluten free penne with lamb meatballs

We tried making meatballs for the first time without the obligatory bread crumbs since going on our gluten free journey.  It turned out pretty good as we substituted the breadcrumbs with chestnut flour to act as the binding agent.   The meatballs maintained shape through the cooking process and tasted great.

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What do I need to make it?

Meatballs

  • 200 gms lean minced lamb
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp crush red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 2 tsp chestnut flour
  • Handful of fresh parsley chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tomato sauce

  • 400 gm tinned plum tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 small green chillies chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2-3

How do I make it?

Place all the meatball ingredients in a bowl and knead together.   Roll the meat mixture into small balls (should get around 20) and refrigerate for an hour.   Heat a pan with some olive oil and brown the meatballs off before placing them in a 200 degree Centigrade pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes or till the meat is done.

For the sauce, heat a pan, add the olive oil followed by the garlic and bay leaves.   Stir for 30 seconds before adding the onions and green chilli.   Sweat the onions for 5-8 minutes before adding the dry and fresh oregano.   Pour in the plum tomatoes (if whole crush or chop them first) with a cup of water and simmer over gentle heat for 20 minutes.   Add the sugar and adjust the seasoning.   Once the tomatoes have cooked through, add the meatballs and garnish the dish with fresh basil and parsley.   Pour over your favourite pasta and enjoy.