Cheap, Tasty and easy to prepare.
This meal is not only cheap and easy to prepare it will also feed at least four people for approximately 50p each, depending on the quantities you add to the dish.
I have cooked this meal for me, and my wife, with the ingredients listed below and it has lasted for two days. On the second day you can always add a touch of chilli and some extra cheese or yoghurt. The basic ingredients look amazing when fresh and the preparation is so simple.
The best way to get the most flavour from your ingredients is to not over cook them.
- 1 large aubergine
- 2 medium potatoes
- olive oil
- 1 onion , peeled and finely chopped
- ½ bulb spring garlic , or 1 clove of regular garlic, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
- 1×400 g good-quality tinned plum tomatoes
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large handful fresh basil
- 3 large handfuls Parmesan cheese , freshly grated
- a little fresh oregano , leaves chopped finely
- 50 grams plain white flour
- 50 grams butter
- milk 200-300 ml
Start by frying the aubergines in a little oil with some thin slices of garlic, slice them into 1cm thick slices, and put to one side once light brown in colour. Whether you’re using a griddle pan or a barbecue, get it really hot. Meanwhile, put 2 or 3 glugs of olive oil into a large pan on a medium heat. Add onion, garlic and dried oregano and cook for 10 minutes, until the onion is soft and the garlic has some colour. If you’re using tinned tomatoes try to buy chopped if not break them up. Add the tinned tomatoes to the onion, garlic and oregano. Give the mixture a good stir, then put a lid on the pan and simmer slowly.
Once the mixture has cooked, I prefer to simmer for as long as possible. But if you’re in a rush you can just heat for 10 to 15 mins and put to one side ready to add to the main dish.
Simple white sauce
To make enough white sauce to cover the top of the dish, add 50 grams of plain flour to 50 grams of melted butter in a saucepan. Stir vigorously for 2 minutes until the mixture has cooked, you can then slowly add milk until you have a sauce that is the texture of thick cream. Once you have the non lumpy sauce you can slowly add some Parmesan cheese, to taste.
If I’m having problems with cash I sometimes pad the dish out with a single layer of potatoes, that have been sliced and brought to the boil or blanched for two minutes at the base of the dish. Preferably on the bottom of the buttered dish.
Use an earthenware dish (25 x 12–15cm). Put in a small layer of potato, then a thin scattering of Parmesan, followed by a single layer of tomato sauce and then a layer of aubergine. Repeat these layers until you’ve used all the ingredients up, finishing with a little white sauce and another good sprinkling of Parmesan. I sometimes add breadcrumbs with a little freshly chopped oregano and sprinkle them on top of the Parmesan. Sometimes the dish is served with torn-up mozzarella on top and some halved cherry tomatoes.
Layer the Aubergine.
Adding the tomato sauce.
Place the dish in the oven and bake at 190°C/375°F/gas 5 for half an hour until golden, crisp and bubbly. It’s best eaten straight away, but it can also be served cold. You can use the same method substituting courgettes or fennel for the aubergines – both are delicious. But do try making it with aubergines – you’ll love it!
The finished meal with a white sauce topping and Parmesan cheese.
I hope you enjoy this meal and if you need any hints just ask.