Foolproof aubergine bake

I love aubergines and they are an indispensable low carb food, but I’ve always been a bit wary of cooking them because the results can be a bit too variable for my perfectionist personality!

My weight loss programme during the past year has given me the incentive to persevere and experiment. I’ve arrived at a delicious, quick and easy aubergine bake which take minutes to prepare, shoves in the oven to cook for long enough for you to get on with something else, or catch up with some TV you’ve missed, and generates oohs and aahs from satisfied consumers.

This recipe feeds three hungry people if served with a green salad, or six if served as an accompaniment to grilled lamb or roast chicken.

Ingredients

  • 1 aubergine per person (the following quantities are for 3)
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 3 tbsp pesto
  • 250 g mozzarella or equivalent
  • 1 red onion, chopped into medium sized chunks
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tins chopped or cherry tomatoes
  • Parmesan

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Cut the tops off the aubergines and slice in half down the length.
  3. With a sharp knife, score a criss-cross design on the cut face.
  4. Then, on the skin side of each half, slice off the roundest bit parallel with the cut side to reveal more flesh – a bit like cutting off the bottom of a boat.
    (The reason for preparing the aubergines in this way is to allow the aubergine to sit flat in the roasting tin and to allow the juices to permeate up through the vegetable as well as down, which vastly improves the cooking results.)
  5. Lay the aubergines in a sturdy roasting dish and drizzle each half with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Spread half a tablespoon of pesto (to taste) over each half. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Roughly tear up the mozzarella and distribute on top of the aubergines.
  7. First sprinkle the onion and garlic, then the contents of the tomato tins, on and between the aubergine halves.
  8. If you are on a low carb diet and understand the importance of eating plenty of good fat, drizzle the whole lot with a little more olive oil.
  9. Place in a 200° oven for 90 minutes or until the aubergines are meltingly soft when squished with a fork. Baste with tomato juices half way through if the top is drying out or getting too brown.
  10. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan and with a green salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or if you’re in need of a more substantial meal, grilled lamb chops are the perfect foil.

You can customise this to your heart’s content: black olives and feta add a Greek feel, pine nuts and basil added after cooking taste delicious, or make a more elaborately flavoured tomato sauce or ragu to smother the aubergines. The secret is to keep it simple and be patient enough for the aubergines to ‘melt’.

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