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Amazing gluten-free, low GI, completely guilt-free and simply delicious and healthy food!


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Gratin d’aubergines


 

Gratin d’aubergines…sounds posh, doesn’t it? (why everything in French sounds posh and in Russian “rude”?! It is not fair!)

I am a cheese&aubergines freak. It is official. So what?

When I saw this Gratin d’aubergines recipe I first thought: “Oh, thats like parmigiana!” Almost. So I was curious to make it and compare with Parmgiana (evil plan hehe).

I know at least 2 people who will definitely want to try it ;-), so here is a step by step instruction:

Ingredients for 4 portions:

  • 2-3 large aubergines
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 3-4 big tomatoes or 600 gr of cherry tomatoes (I was cheeky and used a 700 gr. chopped tomatoes)
  • 50-80 gr. Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tb. spoon of tomato concentrate
  • 1/2 tb sp of sugar (I use fruit sugar)
  • salt, black pepper, olive oil
  • a few basil leaves
  • a bit of milk
  • a medium size baking tray (approx 25 cm) If you have only a big tray you have to use more ingredients – accordingly.

Preparation: 

Sauce

1. Crush the garlic with the knife

2. Without taking the skin off, fry the garlic in olive oil. Add finely sliced onion (it must be sliced really “finely” because we expect it to dissolve in the tomato sause while cooking) and cook for 5-7 min.

3. Add tomatoes. Put the fire down and let the sauce simmer. The sauce must be “juicy” and rich at the same time.

4. Take the aubergines’ skin off. Slice them crosswise in 5-7 mm slices. Make a “net” with the knife on each slice,  sprinkle with salt.

5. Cover the aubergines slices with a paper tissue and sprinkle with the a bit of milk. I know it sounds weird. But it will help to get rid of bitterness. Put them aside for 20 min till they start “weeping”.

6. Heat the pan with a bit of olive oil. Wipe the slices, sprinkle with some black pepper. Add 2 cloves of crushed garlic and aubergines to the hot pan.

7. Fry all of them adding more oil if necessary. This part is finished.

8. In a meantime your tomato sauce is almost ready. Just add 1 tb spoon of tomato concentrate, half tea spoon of sugar (to get rid of acidity) and cook for another 5 or more min on a very low heat. The liquid will evaporate and the sauce will be very rich, aromatic and full of flavours. The onion will almost dissolve, however I recommend to take the garlic cloves out as they are too big to dissolve.

9. Sprinkle the baking tray with olive oil. cover the bottom of the tray wih tomato sauce. Put 1 layer of aubergines on top. Sprinkle with the grated parmesan. Put a few basil leaves. (I used a  fresh chopped basil with olive oil I always keep in the fridge) 
10. Another layer of aubergines. Sprinkle with pamesan cheese again. Cover with tomato sauce. To do that you can use a separator:

Or if you are brave use the sauce as it is, with the onion and garlic which have already dissolved in your slowly cooked sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan.
Now! Put the dish in the 220 degrees oven for 10-15 until it gets this sexy look:

Mmmmmm 😉

Ready to serve – as a side dish, starter or a main course!

 

So, what about the result of my experiment? Here you go!

1. Much lighter than Parmigiana. This is because in Parmigiana we deep fry the aubergines and in this gratin we just fry them in a moderate amount of olive oil. Also because we use less cheese.

2.  This gratin is much easier and quicker to make (again because we skip the deep fry phase).

3.  The taste is stronger thanks to Parmesan cheese, olion and garlic.

Absolutely
De-li-cious!

Watch HOW TO:

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PARMIGIANA


I won’t say much about this dish. Those who tried it once, would never forget it. If you haven’t tried it yet, it is time! Stop missing out!
Ingredients for 4 portions (first I wanted to say “for 4 people” but then I thought I can eat all 4 portions by myself..) :
  • 4 aubergines
  • 1 X 500 gr. pack of grated mozzarella cheese (they sell a grated mozzarella in the supermarkets – specially for cooking. For example HERE ). 
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil
  • Veg oil for frying. To fry 4 sliced aubergines you will need almost a litre of veg oil.
For Tomato Sauce
  • 3 cans of chopped tomatoes of the best quality. I strongly recommend Napolina ones. If your chopped tomatoes are not of the best quality, you risk you parmigiana to be watery and we dont want that ;-). Alternatively use passata!
  • virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • fresh basil
  • salt
Preheat the oven 160 degrees. 
Process:
Finely slice the aubergines (approx. 5 mm thick). Sprinkle with salt both sides and put aside for 30 min. (for more details please see the Grilled Aubergines recipe in the “Starters” section). 
While they are resting, have a sip of wine (for reference see the Wine section) and start making a Sauce!
Sauce: 
Finely chop the onion.
Fry it in a deep sauce pan in 3 tb spoons of olive oil until golden but not brown together with your clove of garlic. Don’t chop the garlic, just crush it with the knife or your thumb.
Add 3 cans of chopped tomatoes
Add salt
Add a few fresh leaves of basil
Cook for about 20 min.
Your salted aubergines must have started “crying”. Wipe the “tears” with a towel. (Starters section again)
Pour the veg oil in the pan and wait till it is really hot.
Fry the aubergine slices in a generous amount of veg oil (they must be “floating” in it:) on both sides until golden.

After rescuing the fried slices from the oil,let them rest on a  paper towels until all the slices are ready.
Cover the bottom of the baking tray with a bit of tomato sauce.
Put the 1st layer of aubergines and cover with the layer of tomato sauce:
Sprinkle the aubergines with grated mozzarella and grated parmesan cheese, and a few fresh leaves of basil.
Yuuhuu! Your first layer is ready! Start the 2nd one:
Well you know what to do now, right?
Continue until you’ve used all the aubergines. The last layer: tomato sauce, cheese (mozzarella and parmesan cheese) and basil.
Finally sprinkle your masterpiece with love and put it in the oven for 15 minutes (the t must be 150-170 degrees). Now have another sip of red (!) wine!
After 15 minutes change the position of the tray (lift it)  to grill the dish for another 5 minutes.
and now ladies and gentlemen…amazing PARMIGIANA!!!
ENJOY!!!


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Amazing Caponata


If you haven’t been on heaven for a while – make a Caponata and you’ll go straigh there (guaranteed).

Here is the CAPONATA recipe I use:

  • 2 large aubergines cut into large chunks (if small – will absorb the oil too fast)
  • dried origano
  • one red onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • a bunch of fresh parsley
  • 2 spoons of salted capers
  • a handful of green olives (stones removed)
  • 5 large tomatoes roughly chopped
  • tomato concentrate (3-4 table spoons)
  • herb vinegar

Preheat a large pan with some olive oil. Add aubergines and oregano, salt and toss around (the aubergines have to be covered with the oil). Cook on a hight heat for 5 min. When the aubergines are golden, add the onion, garlic and parsley.

Cook for another 2 min. Fell free to add more oil if you see it is necessary. add the capers (rinse them before – they can be too salty!), add the olives and (!) herb vinegar! I didnt have it so I used a white wine vinegar – still came out great!

In a couple of minutes add the tomatoes, tomato concentrate and simmer for about 15 min till tender and all the tastes blended together.

Taste and add more salt, pepper, or vinegar. sprinkle with olive oil and a some chopped fresh parsley.


Eat warm, cold, on a bruschetta…BUON APPETITO!! 🙂


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Amazing Melanzane alla Griglia (Grilled aubergines)


Total cook time: 30 – 60 min (depending on a quantity of aubergines and the quality of a grill pan you use:)

Before you start make sure you have:

  • 2 Aubergines
  • Salt
  • 1 small otr1 1/2 big clove of garlic (finely chopped). (Don’t put too much garlic unless you want to become a “garlic dragon” hehe)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • a few mint leaves

Please find the HOW TO picture slide show at the end of this recipe. 

Slice aubergines. The slices have to be approx. 5 mm. wide.

Sprinkle them with salt and leave for 30-60 min to release the water.

I usually put them in a “standing” position:)  using a tall sauce pan. You can also use a chopping board, just make sure one side in higher than the other and the water can flow down.

Put your good proper heavy grill pan on fire. To make this aubergines the way they should be, you have to use a cast iron grill pan. Check the cooking tips section.  The pan must be very hot!

Wipe the aubergines with the kitchen towel properly.

Put on a hot grill and leave for a minute before you start checking if the are getting ready by lifting them and looking at the downside:). ATTENTION. No oil is used at this stage! But the secret is: nothing gets stuck to the pan if it is really hot and you dont start disturbing whatever you grill straight away.

When you see the slices become stripy as the marines t-shirt – its time to flip them over.

Once the aubergines are done from both sides you take them out and let cool down while grilling the rest.

Now take a deep container (I use a simple plastic container)  and put a layer of aubergines on the bottom. Cover with olive oil and sprinkle with finely chopped garlic and balsamic vinegar. Add some mint. Another layer – olive oil, garlic and balsamic, mint. And so on.

Attention! This is exactly the case when LESS is MORE! Be careful with garlic, balsamic and especially mint – put literally “some”, a little and later add if you think it is not enough. The only ingredient which cannot be “too much” in this dish is Olive Oil! Yes you can cover the aubergines “with the head” 🙂

Keep in the container, serve on a plate. Or on a piece of grilled bread – it will become a bruschetta!

Enjoy!


* After you’ve made it a few times and know the taste quite well, try a bit different recipe:
from the above list minus (-) garlic and plus (+)  finely grated zest and juice of one lemon and 1-2 teaspoons of sugar. 
Let me know what you prefer!! 

Your HOW TO is here

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