Comforting yet healthy, and simple enough to be a work night favourite.
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1/2 courgette, sliced via your preferred method. For textured sauces I half 2mm slices into semi circles.
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp sugar
Splash of Tabasco (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
(This makes a good standard pasta sauce base and is freezable, so feel free to double the ingredients if you want more to save)
For the Gratin
1 aubergine, cut length ways into 5mm slices
1/2 courgette, sliced into 2mm rounds.
On the side (pick one, all, or none!)
Warm crusty bread
Heat the oil in a skillet or frying pan. Add the onion, season with salt and saute on a medium heat until they turn translucent and golden.
Whilst the onion is cooking prep the aubergine. Place the sliced aubergine into a colander and season with salt, leave to drain.
Add the crushed garlic and mixed herbs to the cooking onions. If you don't have mixed herbs specifically, simply use any favourite herby flavours that you have in; thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil and marjoram will all work well. A chuck it in approach will always work with sauce like this as long as you limit the herbs to 1tsp- any more will give it a noticeable grainy texture.
Add the chopped tomatoes with a splash of water. Mix in and simmer over a medium heat until you have your desired consistency. 5 minutes of simmering was enough for me.
Whilst these are cooking, take the aubergine slices, rinse with water, press moisture out with kitchen roll and add to a hot frying pan which has been lightly brushed with oil. Light spray oil (diet types) work well for this also, use too much oil and the aubergine will go soggy. The point here is to get the aubergine dried out and to bring out some of the flavour, so that once they go into the gratin they won't instantly turn to mush (the only part of this dish that can go so wrong it ruins it). Brown on both sides and set aside.
Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Add the sugar and Tabasco now if you're using it.
You're ready to layer up the gratin! intermittently layer aubergine with a thin covering of sauce- I sprinkle a tiny bit of Parmesan shavings between layers. The dish fills up pretty quickly, I normally manage to squeeze in 3 layers of aubergine. When you get to the top layer of sauce, cover it with a layer of courgette circles and sprinkle with lots of Parmesan, keeping a tiny sprinkle aside for when it comes out of the oven. The dryness of the courgette gives the Parmesan the chance to crisp up, if you want the cheesy bit gooey then skip out the courgette.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes on around 180 C/ Gas mark 4. The top wants to be lightly browned.
Serve with your sides of choice. So filling and contrary to my waffling instructions, actually very easy!