Ok so here we have an old favourite from our time living in Catalonia. I always remember the first time that I actually ordered this dish, and my surprise when it turned out to not be vegetarian(no my Spanish was not good at that stage)but pork, and my bigger surprise when I actually liked it. I had been used to having stuffed aubergines in London and working on the restaurant scene, so to have one stuffed with pork of all meats and topped with bechamel sauce was a surprise. This is a healthy nutritious and cheap dish to make, and when cooked and treated properly it is also low in fat.
Ingredients serves 4
2 Aubergines split in half lengthways and the centres diced or rough chopped
400gr of minced pork most butchers or supermarkets will sell you the 5% fat mince
1 Large onion rough diced
3 cloves garlic roughly chopped(I always get the small fellow to chop it)
2 medium onions peeled and roughly diced
1 Small leek washed well and roughly diced
1tsp ground cumin
2tsp smoked paprika
1tsp fennel seeds
250ml tomato passata
1 vegetable stock cube
Instead of roasting the split aubergines through the oven I prefer to take out the raw centres. Dice and cook them down with the pork and other vegetables.Yet again I slightly spice this dish because I find it lifts it a little.
Then take the aubergine shells and rub with olive oil, sprinkle some salt and pepper on them and roast in an oven at 150C for approximately 15 minutes or until the flesh has cooked, because as you eat these you will find that the remaining flesh scoops out very easily and adds to the taste of the dish.
Take a large frying pan and start by frying off the mince pork on a medium heat for six to eight minutes on its own. Leave it stick and brown a little
Add all of your roughly diced vegetables and continue cooking it all out for a further ten minutes, then add fennel seeds, paprika and ground cumin. Continue to cook for a further three minutes. At this stage season with a little salt and pepper and add the stock cube, tomato pasatta and half of the water. Pop a lid on the mix and simmer for fifteen minutes on a low heat.
Now you need to make a cheese sauce and you can use my recipe or some people might have their own, feel free to improvise.
This sauce I also use for cauliflower cheese..
Whole nutmeg for grating
1tsp English mustard
80gr Mature Cheddar or any cheese you prefer
salt and pepper
Simpliest thing in the world just warm your milk gently in a saucepan with the clove and some salt and pepper.
In a seperate sauce pan melt the butter and add the flour and cook on a very low heat for three minutes as it forms a paste then start adding your warm milk in and continue to cook out, but be carefull not to burn it. Remove the clove as its just there for flavour. When all the milk has been added then season again for taste and cook out for a further four minutes or until its thickened. At this stage add the English mustard and grate some of the whole nutmeg into the sauce and add any cheese that you wish. I like the addition of about 80gr of strong mature cheddar because with the nutmeg and the mustard it sets the sauce of nicely.
At this stage you are good to go with stuffing your meat mix back into the aubergine shells and then topping the aubergine with the cheesy sauce and a sprinkle of paprika on top (see Photos). Then pop in an oven at 150C for fifteen minutes while you also roast some carrots and brocolli and as I did with some french beans that really set this dish off well. I love roasted brocolli as it preserves the nutrition and all of the goodness and anti cancer properties that make brocolli so special.
When you are cooking out the meat mix you can also add some chopped thyme or sage to the meat mix and if your prefer you can substitute minced pork completely and add minced chicken instead and cook the very same recipe.All in all this is a cheap and tasty dish to have for dinner with the added benefit of the fact that its nutritious and a great way to get kids to eat aubergines.