This courgette, aubergine and asparagus parmigiana was inspired by the left-0over vegetables I had from the glorious ratatouille that I made when filming my instagram live ‘From Chef to Show-Off’ with Steve Bennet, The Lincolnshire Chef. If you haven’t joined us, we’re doing a live cook-along every Monday evening. The premise is that during lockdown we’ve not been able to get to restaurants so Steve, who is a proper fancy chef and runs the incredible Healing Manor and Pig and Whistle Pub near Grimsby, is showing me (and all of us) some of those fancy tricks and tips to achieve restaurant style cooking in our homes. Last Monday we worked with some beautiful eggs from the lovely people at Scamans Eggs and learnt how to poach the perfect egg. We served it with a divine ratatouille, the leftovers of which I’ve used in my sauce here.
The parmigiana recipe today is a twist on the classic melanzane parmigiana and was taught to me by an Italian photographer whilst we were on a shoot about 20 years ago and it’s one of my all time favourite go-to summer meals. I warn you now, it’s not a fast dish to make but when it’s thundering outside and you have a few hours, spend some time in the kitchen and create this stunner!
for the slow cooked tomato sauce
- 2 medium onions – finely chopped
- 3 tins of good quality chopped Italian tomatoes (fresh is just as good but you need to peel and frankly who can be bothered?)
- 3 cloves garlic – crushed
- a glass of white wine
- 1 tablespoons tomato puree
- 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- fresh rosemary and thyme
for the parmigiana
- 3 large courgettes – thickly sliced lengthways
- 1/2 aubergine – sliced into disks
- 8 asparagus spears
- 120g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- salt and pepper
- 1 large free-range egg beaten with a little milk
- 3 large balls fresh mozzarella
- 200g Parmigiano Reggiano – finely grated
Start with the sauce because it needs at least 3 hours cooking time.
Saute the onions in butter and olive oil and let them sweat for a long while (about 10mins on a low heat) and halfway through add the crushed garlic, then add a hearty glug of white wine and let is reduce, next add the tomatoes, herbs, puree and vinegar and I like to throw in an extra teaspoon of sugar, but this is to your own taste Then let is simmer on a very low heat for as long as you’ve got… 2 hours min.
For the filling, prepare the flour by adding the oregano and paprika and mix well, lay this out onto a plate or an oblong dish. Beat the eggs and milk and again, pour this onto a long oblong dish. Each piece of veg should be dipped into the egg and then the flour. Tap off the flour so there’s a light coating on each piece of vegetable.
In a pan a large deep pan, heat enough vegetable oil so that you’re shallow frying and fry 3 slices at a time Don’t be tempted to overcrowd the pan as they wont turn golden and they’ll go soggy– set aside on paper to drain off the excess oil whilst you fry all the veg.
Pre-heat the oven to 170C
You’re now ready to layer your pie. I’m using an oblong ceramic pie dish but any oven-proof dish would work, whatever you’d make a lasagne in. I try and go for 3 layers of each. Start with a layer of courgettes, then add some tomato sauce, followed by 1 of the balls of mozzarella which you need to tear up and place onto the layers and a large handful of grated parmesan. Season well with salt and pepper between each layer and continue till it’s all gone. Top with more mozzarella and parmesan.
Bake for 30 mins until you have a glorious, golden, molten dish.
Don’t forget to join me and Steve for our cook-along. Next week on the 24th June we’ll be doing two live cook-alongs as part of the Lincolnshire Show which has gone digital this year due to the impact from Covid-19. We’ll be on our usual channels but you can also access us via The Lincolnshire Show website.
eat and of course, enjoy!