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Posts Tagged ‘aubergine’

Introduction
You do not need to be an accomplished chef to attempt to construct this dish. In fact, you do not need to know anything about cooking at all. It would probably be better if you were a simple bricklayer. Just follow the instructions, stay true to your quest, and you shall be rewarded with the finest lasagne in all the land. Good luck.
Ingredients
6 sheets fresh lasagne
1 aubergine
1 bag spinach
300g asparagus
1 large red onion
100g sun-dried tomatoes
300g mozzarella
200g mexicana cheese, or substitute cheddar with chilli flakes
1 large jar white lasagne sauce (700g)
1 bag fresh basil
1 bag fresh coriander
3 cloves garlic
soy sauce
freshly ground black pepper

Tools
ovenproof rectangular dish – 12″ x 8″ x 2″ deep
a second dish of similar size for holding hot water
large non-stick frying pan
small shallow pan
plastic potato masher
garlic press
steamer, grill or microwave for softening asparagus
colander
spatula
kettle
knife and chopping board

Preparation
These can be done simultaneously depending on your competence and number of helpers. When each bit is done you can simply set it to one side until needed. If you are really motoring this can all be done in 30 minutes. Give yourself 40 and enjoy a nice glass of wine while you do it.

1. Press the garlic into a small shallow pan. Chop the onions and sun-dried tomatoes and add to the pan. Add a bit of olive oil if your tomatoes are not already drenched in it and fry on a low heat until the onions are soft but not brown.

2. Heat a large non-stick frying pan on a high heat. Slice the aubergine into half-centimetre slices and add to the pan in a single layer. Douse with soy sauce and after a few minutes press the aubergine using a plastic potato masher, being careful to hold the pan steady. You should be looking to gently crush the aubergine so that it gives up its moisture and starts to fry in its own juices. Flip the aubergine slices as necessary and fry until browned on both sides. Continue until all slices are done.

3. Steam the asparagus for 5 minutes to soften it up. Alternatively, put under a grill for 10 minutes. As a last resort, microwave for 3 minutes. If you have bought fine asparagus then this step is not necessary.

4. Wash the spinach and place in a colander. Pluck the leaves from the basil and mix with the spinach. Pour over a litre of hot water from the kettle and mix gently with a spatula so that all of the spinach wilts.

5. Slice the mozzarella and mexicana – the mexicana needs to have enough area make a single layer in your dish and the mozzarella, two. You might find the mozzarella doesn’t look enough – don’t worry, you can leave gaps and it will melt.

6. Roughly chop the coriander.

7. Fill the second shallow rectangular pan or dish with hot water from the kettle, and dunk your fresh lasagne sheets in there to make them malleable.

8. Preheat the oven to 180C.

Construction
This is from the bottom up. At each stage you should be looking to minimise the amount of air in the dish by packing the ingredients tightly together. After each layer of lasagne you can even press down evenly across the whole dish to squish everything together. Shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.

1/4 jar of white sauce – spread evenly
2 sheets of fresh lasagne side-by-side but overlapping
spinach and basil
1/2 of the mozzarella
generous black pepper
1/4 jar of white sauce – spread evenly
2 sheets of fresh lasagne side-by-side but overlapping
tomatoes, garlic and onion
coriander
aubergine – lay slices flat, try to fill the available space
other 1/2 of the mozzarella
generous black pepper
1/4 jar of white sauce – spread evenly
2 sheets of fresh lasagne side-by-side but overlapping
asparagus
1/4 jar of white sauce – spread evenly
mexicana cheese

If you have any ingredients left at this stage, you have failed. Go back to “Introduction”.

Cooking
Put it in the oven for 40 mins at 180C. If you like the top layer a bit browner and crispier, turn it up to 200C with 10 minutes to go.

Serving suggestion
Trust me, you do not need chips. A nice green leaf salad with a simple balsamic and olive oil dressing, and maybe a halved tomato or two should be ample.

Variations
Try adding any of the following:

  • pan-fried courgettes or peppers
  • broccoli
  • black olives
  • sliced artichokes in oil
  • stir-fried Mexican chicken (caution: may not be strictly vegetarian)
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This recipe is from a very thick cookbook called Culina Mundi that my dad found at a surplus liquidation store. Culina Mundi is a culinary adventure with more than 500 recipes from 60 famous chefs, which are all documented with fabulous photographs. This is one of those cookbooks that lives on the kitchen counter and you can’t resist flipping through it every time you are in the kitchen.

We made this Macedonian recipe by Konstantinos and Chrysanti Stamkopoulos for a small gathering of good friends last night and we all loved it. We served it as the appetizer before a light main course and after delicious oysters on the half shell from Carr’s Lobster Pound in Stanley Bridge, PEI.

Eggplant

Notes:
Eggplants are also known as aubergines in some places. I used crumbled Melba toast instead of breadcrumbs which seemed to work fine. I also added the parsley to the feta and garlic mixture because I misread the directions. I found they didn’t brown much in the oven, which could have been because I used Melba toast, but you might want to broil (grill) them a bit at the end.


Eggplant au Gratin with Feta

Preparation time 15 minutes.
Cooking time 15 minutes.
Serves 6.

3 large eggplants
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch parsley
6 tbsp breadcrumbs
300g/11 oz feta
salt
pepper
7 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp vinegar

1. Prick the eggplant skins with a fork. Put them on a broiling pan and broil or grill for 15 minutes. Chop the parsley. Peel the garlic and chop it.

2. Put the bread crumbs, crumbled feta and chopped garlic into a bowl. Using your hands, toss until everything is finely crumbled.

3. When the eggplants are cooked, cut each in half. Break the flesh into pieces using the tip of a knife.

4. If desired, add salt and pepper to the eggplant. Sprinkle each eggplant half liberally with several dashes of olive oil, moving the bottle so as to distribute the oil evenly.

5. Place the eggplant halves on a flat baking dish. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and fill them with the feta mixture.

6. Bake the eggplant haves in the oven at 200°C/390°F for 10 minutes. When they are browned, remove from the oven and pour the vinegar and 3 tsp olive oil over the top.

Serve hot.

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