In this recipe I've fused together two classic Italian dishes - the Lasagne and the Parmigiana. Actually all I've done is added a couple of lasagne sheets to it, but also done my own twist on the tomato sauce. Simply adjustment but it works! I find it lightens the Lasagne and makes the Parmigiana a more substantial meal. But it's definitely more Parmigiana than it is Lasagne.
Aubergine is one my my favourite vegetables and works so well in a rich tomato sauce. This dish is a great way to use up any aubergines in the fridge if they're doing nothing. Don't let them go to waste as this dish is super easy and tasty, and the rest of the ingredients you can easily find in your cupboard.
Parmigiana is a vegetable-based dish but as it uses Parmesan cheese, it's not strictly vegetarian. You can use a hard goat's cheese or similar if you don't want to use Parmesan. I use a fair bit of pesto in this dish because it combines ingredients already in the dish - garlic, basil, olive oil and parmesan - and really gives the sauce that luxurious richness. If you're not keen on using pesto then either use a plant-based pesto, or leave it out and add a bit more garlic and fresh basil instead.
Nutritional Yeast is a good ingredient to use instead of parmesan cheese if you want to make this dish vegan. There are some great vegan cheeses on the market these days (and some terrible ones!). Opt for a mozzarella-style vegan cheese made from coconut oil and use in place of the mozzarella. If you can't get hold of any, use whatever you can get your hands on.
8-12 Lasagne sheets
2-3 medium aubergines, 1cm sliced lengthways
1-2 tbsp Olive Oil
80g of Parmesan
160g Buffalo mozzarella
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 sticks of celery, finely diced
1 red pepper, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tins of tomatoes
2 tbsp of tomato puree
2 tbsp of pesto
1 tsp of Oregano
1 tsp of Thyme
1 tsp Basil
Handful of fresh basil
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
1. Start by cutting up the aubergine and sprinkling salt over them to release the moisture. Set aside while you cook the sauce.
2. For the sauce, fry the onions, celery, garlic and herbs (except the fresh basil leaves) in the oil in a large non stick pan for 8-10 minutes on a medium-high heat. When the onions and celery are nice and soft but not brown, add the red pepper and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
3. Add the tins of tomatoes, bouillon and a splash of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce reduces and thickens.
4. While the sauce is simmering, pat dry the aubergines with a clean cloth. Rub oil sparingly and evenly into the aubergines and fry them in a non-stick frying pan on a high-ish heat until nicely brown and cooked through. You will probably need to do this in batches, and use more oil if necessary. Alternatively, you can omit the oil and use a griddle to cook the aubergines, or place them under a grill, turning once. It's important the aubergines are cooked through and not tough but still have some bite to them.
5. Add the tomato puree, which will thicken the sauce. Add a little more if necessary, or if the sauce is too dry then add a small splash of water to loosen Add the pesto, balsamic vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add a little sugar if you want but this is optional.. Finally, add some fresh, torn up basil leaves. Blend the tomato sauce or leave chunky.
6. Take 4 individual lasagne dishes (or larger baking dish for 4 portions) and begin layering the lasagne. First start with a layer of tomato sauce followed by a sprinkling of the parmesan. Then add a layer of aubergine and then a sheet of lasagne. Repeat until you run out of ingredients or you've reached the full capacity of the dish. Ideally you want to finish with a layer of tomato sauce and parmesan. Finally, lay the mozzarella over the top. Put in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes.
7. If you've used a large baking dish then once cooked leave to stand for a couple of minutes before serving as it will make it easier to divide up, and gives it a chance to cool down. Serve with your favourite green vegetables, and optional garlic bread.
For a Vegan alternative, scatter 1 teaspoons of nutritional yeast instead of the parmesan at every layer, and use mozzarella-style vegan cheese instead of the mozzarella. To make it more Lasagne than Parmigiana, add some cooked Puy lentils or soya mince to the tomato sauce at the end after blending.
As the Parmigiana is a vegetable-based dish, no meat is required. But if you want it to be more Lasagne than Parmigiana then you can add mince beef to it. Simply, fry 350g of ground beef in a little oil until browned before you start cooking the sauce. Set the beef aside and add at the same time as the tinned tomatoes. Then follow the instructions as above. The beef will bulk the dish out more so you can either add more sauce to the layers or more lasagne.