I actually think that aubergine has got to be my favourite vegetable, one which is often forgotten and not celebrated. This fantastic dish is all too often seen as a side dish to something else, but I think it is just fantastic on its own as a main course – think of it as a low carb healthy veg lasagne, as it is essentially just that.
2 Large aubergines sliced into round discs (about 1/2 cm thick)
3 Cloves garlic
1 Can chopped tomatoes
1 Large handful grated cheddar
2 Large handfuls grated parmesan
A hunk of crusty bread
A knob of butter
1 tbsp. plain flour
300 ml milk
Chopped sprig of rosemary
Small bunch fresh basil
Pinch of sugar
Squeeze balsamic glaze (or a splash or balsamic vinegar)
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees c.
Firstly, in a frying pan, heat a glug olive oil on medium high heat (if it’s smoking, it’s far too hot). Slice your aubergine to 1/2 cm round slices and place them in the pan (depending on the size, you should be able to fit 5/6 slices in each batch). Once browned on one side, turn them all over using a spatula. Once browned on both sides, place on some kitchen roll to drain most oil, add more oil to the pan and put your next batch in. Keep repeating until all used up.
Meanwhile, chop your onion and fry on a medium heat in some olive oil, add 2 crushed garlic cloves and cook until clear and soft. Add your tomatoes, a pinch of sugar, a squeeze of balsamic glaze, torn basil and salt and pepper to taste and stir on a medium-low heat.
For your cheese sauce, melt the butter and flour together in a pan on a medium low heat to form a paste, adding some milk, stirring until it thickens, adding more, stirring etc. until you have used up all of your milk. Add 1 large handful of grated cheddar and 1 large handful of grated parmesan, and some ground black pepper (but no salt – trust me the cheese is salty enough). If the sauce seems far too thick, add a splash of milk.
In a small blender, pulse your bread until it forms breadcrumbs and fry in a pan on medium heat with a glug of olive oil, a clove of crushed garlic, chopped rosemary and a pinch of oregano.
In an oven proof dish, lay your aubergine overlapping each other (as above), cover with a layer of your tomato sauce, then cheese sauce, finally topping with your breadcrumbs and a final large handful of grated parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes until it it brown on top and bubbling away.