The aubergine–eggplant–melanzane–enigmatic gentle giant of a vegetable.
Not included in the diagram but a useful addition to the repetoire, this tortino recipe is adapted from Paola Gavin’s Italian Vegetarian Cookery.
A tortino is a sort of soufflé crossed with a no-pastry pie–handy for those who need to watch their intake of refined carbohydrates.
It’s a little labour intensive but pays off.
600/700 gms aubergine [eggplant]–peeled and sliced thin
olive oil for brushing
2 1/2 oz tomato sauce–see below
2 oz grated parmesan
salt and pepper
Lightly salt the aubergine slices and leave them to drain for at least an hour.
Set the oven to 190C
Dry the slices in between sheets of kitchen paper.
Oil a couple of shallow oven trays.
Lightly brush the slices with olive oil and lay them out on the trays.
Bake for 5 minutes each side on the top shelf of the oven–one tray at a time.
Heat a cast iron grill pad to hot.
Transfer the slices onto the grill pad and char them for a couple of minutes each side.
(The grilling adds a smokey taste; you could fry the slices or just leave the slices in the oven longer but they must cook to tender.)
Oil a shallow oven dish and layer the cooked slices in the bottom.
Whisk the cheese and the tomato sauce together and season with salt and pepper.
Whisk the eggs and stir them well into the mixture.
Pour this over the aubergines.
Make sure the mix covers the aubergine slices.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
Quick Tomato sauce
A handy standby sauce.
I made this in a jiffy this morning and used 2 1/2 oz of it for the tortino leaving easily enough for our pasta tonight–giving me time to follow some of today’s stage in the Tour de France!
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large tin of tomatoes–drained of their juice and roughly chopped.
2 garlic cloves–peeled and thinly sliced.
salt and pepper.
2 sprigs of rosemary–chopped.
Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic and the rosemary.
Soften the garlic, being careful not to let it burn–a few seconds.
Add the tomatoes
and cook over a high heat–stirring often–until the loose liquid has evaporated and little pockmarks appear on the surface.
If you can part the Red Sea—running a spoon through it–it’s done.
Season with salt and pepper.