Is it completely the wrong time of year for casseroles? Actually I’m not sure I even care. This was too good to care. Plus I’ve not been well the last few days (thank you for all your lovely caring messages on Facebook! Nearly made me weep) so I needed something incredibly quick and easy that allowed me to get straight back to lying prostrate on the sofa again. This takes about 10 minutes to prepare, then you just stick it in the oven for half an hour and you’re sorted. It would make a great side dish to some sort of protein, since it’s pretty much just aubergine (although there’s plenty of greenery hidden in the pesto), but I just had it as a light lunch.
This is a great dish for serving to meat-eaters. I’ve found that aubergine tends to go down pretty well with omnivores, since it’s a bit more substantial than other vegetables – dare I say it, even slightly meaty (though what do I know, I’m a vegetarian). Thick chunks of aubergine, homemade pesto made with spinach, rocket and basil, plenty of mozzarella cheese, and crunchy breadcrumbs – ridiculously simple, but completely delicious.
Now, as I spend another evening sprawled out watching rom-coms (I watched When Harry Met Sally for about the sixteenth time last night – any suggestions for tonight?), I hope you will all head to your kitchens to rustle up this quick aubergine casserole. It’s pretty fab.
- 1 large aubergine
- 1tbsp pine nuts
- 1 clove garlic
- 30g fresh spinach
- 30g fresh rocket
- 3tbsp fresh basil
- 2tbsp olive oil
- Black pepper
- 75g shredded mozzarella
- 1 slice white bread
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F).
- Cut the aubergine into 1cm slices, and grill (broil) under a medium heat for a couple of minutes each side, until just about cooked through, and slightly softened.
- Meanwhile, prepare the pesto. Blitz the pine nuts and garlic in a food processor, and then add the spinach, rocket and basil, and blitz again to form a paste. Add the oil and seasonings, and blitz once more to combine.
- When the aubergine is ready, cut each slice into chunks (I cut the smaller slices into quarters and the larger slices into sixths). Lay half of the aubergine chunks in the bottom of a fairly small baking dish (mine measured around 8 x 6 inches).
- Top the aubergine with half of the pesto, and spread it around before adding half of the cheese. Repeat these layers with the remaining aubergine, pesto and cheese.
- Without cleaning the food processor, blitz the bread to create crumbs, and sprinkle these on top of the casserole. Top with a little more black pepper, and bake for around 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese has melted, the breadcrumbs are golden brown, and the aubergine is soft throughout.