As I’ve said several times before – the ugliest foods are often the most delicious. I feel you need to bear this in mind while you’re looking at these pesto and ricotta aubergine parcels. They may not be the most beautiful recipe I’ve ever created, but they taste so good. Let’s give the ugly fella a chance.
These aubergine parcels are pretty straightforward to make, but I think they look quite elegant (elegantly ugly…?). They’d make a great appetiser with a green salad, or serve them with some potatoes and veggies for a full meal – maybe even Christmas dinner?!
To make them, start by griddling some thin slices of aubergine (eggplant). This softens them up enough to form the ‘parcel’ for the incredibly tasty filling (I’ll get to that in a second). You can use a frying pan if you don’t have a griddle pan, but I personally think those char lines are too pretty to miss out on. I used this kind of thing: Amazon UK* / Amazon US*.
Use the softened slices of aubergine to line a small bowl or large ramekin, and add the filling, then use more aubergine to cover the top and seal off the parcels.
Onto that filling: all I can say is yum. It’s a creamy mixture of ricotta cheese with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and all sorts of other seriously delicious bits. The flavours are amazing! Who cares if your dinner’s a bit ugly when it tastes as good as these aubergine parcels?
Just make sure you drizzle them with a bit of extra pesto and garnish with a token leaf of fresh parsley to make them a bit prettier…
- 1 large aubergine (eggplant)
- Spray oil
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 2 spring onions, trimmed and cut into rough chunks
- Few sprigs fresh parsley
- 1 handful fresh spinach
- ~ 10 large pieces sun-dried tomato (if packed in oil, drain them first)
- 250 g (~ 1 cup) ricotta cheese
- 1 tbsp basil pesto
- 1 egg
- Black pepper
Cut the aubergine lengthwise into very thin slices - don't worry if some of the slices aren't completely 'full' - it's better to make sure they're nice and thin (ideally about 2mm thick).
Spray a griddle pan (or frying pan, if you don't have a griddle pan) with oil, and cook the aubergine slices until soft - just a minute or so on each side.
Thoroughly spray 3 large ramekins or small bowls with oil, and line with the aubergine slices, pressing into the corners of the dish. Make sure each slice overhangs the edge of the dish by at least a couple of centimetres. Save a few slices back.
To make the filling, add the garlic, spring onions and parsley to a food processor, and blitz until well chopped. Add the spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, and repeat. Finally add the ricotta, pesto, egg, and a pinch of salt and pepper, and blitz to combine.
Add the filling mixture to the three aubergine-lined bowls. You'll need to keep back three slices of aubergine for topping the parcels, but if you have any extra slices, make another layer of aubergine in the middle of the filling.
When the filling has all been distributed, fold the slices of aubergine over the top, and add one more slice to ensure each parcel is well covered.
Place the bowls in the oven and bake at 180°C (Gas Mark 4 / 350°F) for 50-60 minutes, until the filling is firm. Serve warm.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for 1/3 of the recipe (one aubergine parcel).
Got a few sun-dried tomatoes left over? Try chopping them up and throwing them into pasta – my smoky lentil carbonara recipe is perfect!
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