Friday, 13 July 2012
Involtini di melanzane
Aubergines just shout summer to me. I know you can get them all year round but they're at their best from July to September, and seem to typify mediterranean cuisine. These little aubergine involtini are common throughout southern Italy. Most versions include mozzarella and ham although GL's mum uses mortadella in hers, saying that it adds a certain aromatic dimension. My rendition though comes via Nigella. There's no meat in it but the combination of salty, sharp feta with milky, melting mozzarella works perfectly. The added crunch of pinenuts that she suggests are a perfect contrast to the softness of the cheese. I don't however use the raisins that she includes in her recipe - even though they are used quite extensively in Sicilian savoury cooking, I personally only like them in sweet dishes. I add fresh mint and oregano rather than parsley and dried mint and dispense with the melted mozzarella topping, preferring just to use a small amount of passata with a few fresh basil leaves thrown over after I've taken it out of the oven.
I'm entering this into the fabulous Forever Nigella challenge started by Sarah at http://blog.maisoncupcake.com/forever-nigella and hosted this month by Amy from Cooking, Cakes and Children http://www.cookingcakesandchildren.com/2012/07/forever-nigella-17-sizzling-summer/. Let's hope that the Sizzling Summer will have arrived by the closing date at the end of July!
As it includes lovely fresh mint, basil and oregano, I'm also sending this over to Herbs on Saturday, thought up by Karen from the wonderful Lavender and Lovage http://www.lavenderandlovage.com/herbs-on-saturday, with guest host this month Vanesther of Bangers and Mash http://bangermashchat.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/july-herbs-on-saturday/
RECIPE (adapted from Nigella's recipe in her fantastic book Feast)
2 large aubergines
100g feta cheese, crumbled
125g ball mozzarella, finely chopped
25g parmesan, grated
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 clove garlic, crushed
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
about 400g passata
extra oil for grilling the aubergine slices
Cut the aubergines into thinnish slices and brush with oil. Cook on a very hot griddle until soft and striped. Remove to a plate as you go.
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.
Mix all the other ingredients together (except the passata).
Put a small amount of filling on each aubergine slice and roll it up, making sure the filling won't fall out. Place them into a lightly greased gratin dish, pour over the passata, a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Bake for about 25-30 mins.
As Nigella states, this is better if you can leave it to cool slightly once it's come out of the oven - 10 mins should probably be enough.