I made this for lunch today and the dish was completely wiped clean in minutes. This is an updated version of a similar recipe I posted when I first started this blog. Back then my photography skills were lacking and so it didn't look all that appetising. I really didn't want a bad photo to let this dish down as it is one of my all time favourite recipes and I get such amazing feedback from anyone who tries it themselves at home. I made it for lunch today and decided to tweak the recipe slightly, re-photograph the dish and share it on the blog again. I definitely think today's photos do it justice. The second one even captures the steam rising from the freshly served dish (I couldn't wait for it to cool as I was just so excited to eat it).
Never minding how the dish looks, the really important thing is how it tastes. This tastes so flavoursome and light while still being comforting. It kind of reminds me of a meat free lasange. The traditional Italian dish of melanzane parmigiana is made from aubergine, parmesan and tomato sauce. For this recipe, I replace the parmesan with a homemade basil cream cheese made from soaked cashew nuts (apologies in advance for any Italian chefs out there). I adore this cream cheese so much, I couild eat it straight from the food processor.
I made the tomato sauce using fresh tomatoes so there is a little bit of work involved in removing the skins and deseeding them. All this recipe needs is a basic tomato sauce, so if you have a favourite that you usually make, it should work prefectly too. My favourite way to serve this is with a green salad and some crisp rye bread to soak up the tomato sauce.
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
For the tomato sauce:
1 clove of garlic
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of sea salt
For the cashew cream cheese:
1 cup of cashew nuts, soaked in hot water for an hour
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons of water
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
1 cup of basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
Juice of a lemon
Pinch of sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Torn basil leaves
1. Start with the tomato sauce. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Fill a large bowl with ice cold water and leave to the side. Using a knife, make an 'X' slit in the skin of each tomato. Place them in the boiling water for 90 seconds. Then remove them using a slotted spoon and immediately place them in the ice water for 60 seconds. Remove them from the water and peel of the skin, core the tomatoes and remove the seeds. Place the tomato flesh in a food processor and pulse gently until you have a chunky tomato sauce. Place in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and allow to simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 / 190 degrees celsius. Slice the aubergines into thin slices (about .5cm) in thickness. Pour 2 tbsp of olive oil into a bowl. Using a brush, lightly brush each side of the aubergine slices with olive oil and place them on 2 baking trays. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, turning the slices halfway through. Once they are done, remove from the oven and set to one side.
3. To make the cashew cheese, drain the cashew nuts and place in a blender or food processor. Add the remining ingredients and blend until combined and until you have a creamy sauce. It's important to blend well until the cheese is creamy as opposed to grainy.
4. Once the tomato sauce has been cooking for 45 minutes, finish it by adding two cloves of finely chopped or grated garlic and the juice of half a lemon and stir well.
5. To assemble the melanzane, take an oven proof dish. Pour half the tomato sauce into the base of the dish. Using half the aubergine, place a layer of aubergine on top of the sauce. Next, spoon the cashew cream evenly over the layer of aubergine. Place the remaining aubergine over the cashew cream and top with the rest of the tomato sauce. Place in the oven for 10 minutes.
6. Remove form the oven and top with torn basil leaves and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve immediately.