What do you get if you combine an Aubergine Gateau with some sweet tapenade, some rice and some puy lentils? You get a Mediterranean Veggie Bake. Very easy, very healthy, very filling – and quite cheesy.
I topped this with Grana Padano but if you want to make this properly vegetarian top it with Mozzarella.
When I first made this I tried a topping that was a mixture of natural yoghurt, ricotta, eggs, mint and nutmeg. This turned out to be much more runny than I anticipated. It ran down the sides and sunk into the dish. It tasted fine. But I happened to make a smaller portion topped with just cheese that tasted much better.
I had made more filling and aubergine slices than would fit into the baking dish I used. I topped a smaller portion with Grana Padano. It turned out much better with the plain cheese topping.
I was looking for a recipe that could be mostly made with items that have long shelf lives – so I could be sure to have the ingredients to hand. I think I did fairly well. This would be best with fresh rather than dried basil but you could substitute tinned tomatoes and good pinch of sugar for the cherry tomatoes. And I suppose you could substitute pasta sheets for the aubergine slices but the aubergine do taste great in this.
100g brown rice, cooked with garlic clove, 1 teaspoon of oil and a pinch of salt
100g Puy lentils, boiled with garlic clove, pinch of salt, sprig of thyme
3 medium-sized aubergines, sliced into 1cm slices and seasoned
1 jar black olive (approx 100g drained)
5 sundried tomatoes plus a couple of tablespoons of oil
1 roasted pepper, skinned
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
good pinch of Cayenne pepper
500g cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, crushed
leaves of 3 - 4 stems of basil
pinch of salt
Grana Pandano or Mozzarella
Turn the oven on to 200 C. Line a couple of baking trays with baking paper, place the seasoned sliced aubergine on these and drizzle over a little oil. Let them bake for about 20 minutes. Take out when done and leave aside. Turn the oven down to 180 C.
Add the drained olives, sundried tomatoes plus a couple of tablespoons of the oil they come in, the roasted pepper, the red wine vinegar and a pinch of Cayenne pepper to a food mixer and blend to a tapenade consistency.
Heat a little extra virgin olive oil in a suitably large frying pan. Fry the cherry tomatoes until they are soft and pulpy. I usually mash them with a potato masher after a few minutes. Stir in the garlic and a pinch of salt. Let it cook for a couple minutes more. Then turn off, tear up the basil leaves and stir them in. Take off the heat.
In a large bowl mix together the rice, lentils, tapenade and fried cherry tomatoes. Grease an oven dish with olive oil. Line the bottom with half the cooked aubergine slices, spoon over half the tomato-rice mix. Repeat. Cover with grated mozzarella or Grana Pandano or Parmesan.
Bake in the oven at 180 C until the top is golden and bubbling. Take out and leave to cool for 15 minutes before serviing. Serve with some fresh salad.