MEATLESS MONDAYS: Baked Aubergine Rolls
In our new series to mark the start of a new year, Hilary Biller will feature a selection of main meal recipes that contain no meat, fish or chicken
EASY on the pocket, the original Meatless Monday campaign was started in America in early 2003 as a way of improving health - both of the population and the planet. The concept has been endorsed by many personalities, including the well known vegetarian and former Beatle Paul McCartney, who launched the Meat-Free Monday campaign in the United Kingdom in 2009 with his children James, Stella and Mary.
This first recipe, baked aubergine rolls, was demonstrated by English food writer Anne Willan on her culinary tour of South Africa in the mid-1990s.
A Francophile, Willan went on to establish the famous LaVarenne Cooking School in Burgundy, France.
BAKED AUBERGINE ROLLS
4 aubergines, long rather than fat
125ml ( 1½ cup) ricotta cheese
A large handful of fresh basil leaves
150g mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
Parmesan cheese, grated
1 large onion, finely chopped
30-45ml (2-3 tbsp) olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
5ml (1 tsp) sugar
5ml (1 tsp) mixed dried herbs
250ml red or white wine, chicken stock or water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
With a sharp knife, cut the aubergines into long slices about 3mm thick. Salt generously and stack in a colander to drain for 20-30 minutes. Rinse well and pat dry with paper towel.
Brush with olive oil on both sides and place under a preheated grill and cook on both sides till brown. Cool.
While the aubergines are cooling, make the tomato sauce by frying the onion in the olive oil. Add the garlic and tomatoes with their juice. Add the sugar, herbs and wine or stock and bring to a simmer. Season generously. Cook for 15-20 minutes until reduced and thickened. Pour half into a baking dish reserving the other half.
Spread the aubergine slices with a spoonful of ricotta cheese. Top with a basil leaf. Top with a piece of mozzarella cheese and roll up. Place on top of the tomato sauce with the fold at the bottom and continue using all the aubergine slices.
Spoon over remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle generously with parmesan cheese and bake at 180°C for 30-40 minutes. Serve hot or cold with salad and a crusty loaf to mop up the juices.