k Courgette Parmigiana with a hint of mint k
I adore aubergine parmigiana! It is a glorious and classic thing or in other words, Mediterranean comfort stodge.
I’ve mixed things up a bit and for my version I use courgettes instead of aubergines. I have taken to growing courgettes purely because I’m a rather impatient vegetable grower and the turnaround and yield is quick, rewarding and abundant. Feel free to use aubergines here for the ‘classic parmigiana’ recipe.
Layering chargrilled courgettes with parmesan, rich tomato sauce, mozzarella and topped with crunchy breadcrumbs make an absolutely delicious and moreish vegetable dish. It also works perfectly as well in autumn and winter as it does on a balmy Ibiza summer night. The bursting freshness of robustly flavoured tomatoes truly deliver a taste of sun drenched climes, while the generous lashing of olive oil and cheese and crunchy breadcrumbs provide the total comfort element.
I use a combination of dried oregano, fresh basil and fresh mint. The oregano gives that old school pizzary type flavour, while the mint zips up the freshness of the courgettes and the basil obviously goes hand in hand with the tomatoes. This heavenly dish can be eaten as centre stage of any lunch or dinner served with a simple crisp dressed salad. It also makes a scrumptious side to all kinds of roasted meats and fish dishes. My one tip here is to be a bit patient and resist serving it scolding hot from the oven, hold back a little while as the flavours burst into sunny heights when left to cool down a bit. You can taste the mellow maturity of those long summer days, delicious beyond words….
Serves 4 as a main dish (6 for a side dish)
1.5kg courgettes (traditionalists can use aubergines)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
600g fresh chopped tomatoes (or one tin good quality chopped tomatoes)
300g jar (approx) good quality pasatta
100ml red wine
Pinch of sugar
1 handful fresh basil – roughly torn
1 handful fresh chopped mint
200g mozzarella, thinly sliced
150g Parmesan, grated
50g breadcrumbs (Panko preferably)
- Cut the courgettes (or aubergines if you want to use them instead) lengthways into 5mm slices, sprinkle with salt.
- If you have a griddle pan heat it until smoking hot, grill the courgettes on both sides – you will need to do this in batches as you don’t want to overcrowd the pan. Once cooked leave them in a dish off heat
- Now make the sauce. Heat the olive oil on a medium heat and add the chopped onion with the dried oregano. Cook for 5 minutes then add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add your chopped fresh tomatoes (or tinned tomatoes – mind you, fresh seasonal ripe tomatoes will taste much more delicious and sweeter). Add the pasatta, red wine, pinch of sugar and simmer with a lid for at least 20 minutes. Add the chopped basil and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Lightly grease a baking dish and spread with a thin layer of tomato sauce onto the bottom,.hen a thin scattering of grated parmesan followed by a layer of courgettes, fresh mint leaves and mozzarella. Repeat this order until you have used up all the aubergine, finishing with a layer of sauce (you may not need all the sauce) – make sure you keep a little Parmesan back for the top.
- Toss the breadcrumbs with a little olive oil and Parmesan and sprinkle on top. Bake for about 30 minutes until bubbling and browned, then allow cooling slightly and sprinkling with torn basil before serving. Summery scrumptiousness.