A delicious late-summer jackpot of a recipe, done alla parmigiana. Not just eggplant, but chard, potatoes, garlicky oil and a simple homemade sauce, layered up and covered in a crust of gooey cheese and earthy porcini breadcrumbs. Hearty yet light; a vegetarian recipe the whole family will love. For all of you vegetable lovers out there, i.e. all of you.
Read the whole post and recipe to find out why and how this recipe – containing potatoes! – is lower carb. It’s pretty cool!
I know it is not yet September, but this Florida gal is feeling autumnal. Not by choice, but because my chosen home doesn’t really do summer. As the local saying goes, “summer was on a Tuesday”.
Edinburgh in August is a time of arts festivals, plump wild berries and ferreting around for all of the cold weather clothes that should never have been put away. It is not a time for brain-freezing ice lollies and acres of bare flesh.
Mind you, I did whip up a jug of sour cherry frosé at the weekend – enjoyed in the garden, wearing my favourite woolly cardigan. True.I’ve lived in Edinburgh far longer than I did in my home state of Florida. But despite many years experiencing the disappointment of a UK August, I never fail to be surprised that I can’t wear shorts and sleeveless tops; or casually leave the house without an umbrella.
But I don’t miss the stultifying humidity of a Florida August. That feeling of being smothered by a 12-tog duvet as you leave your air-conditioned home. I’ll take proper seasons, thank you – even if we experience them all within a span of five minutes.
This gradual slide into autumn feels almost welcome though. Now I can legit get carried away dreaming up comforting savoury bakes, such as this very-veggie riff on the classic Eggplant Parmesan.
I haven’t had a whole lot of success in the vegetable garden this summer. My summer squashes have been duds, nibbled by beasties and stunted by lack of nurturing warmth; while my tomatoes are stubbornly green, sulking in their cool outdoor spot. But the potatoes, chitted and planted late enough for me not to deserve even a handful of plump pale tubers, are being pulled up in greedy basketsful. And the chard is still coming through, crinkly swords atop crimson, saffron and creamy-white stems. I’m not sure quite what inspired me to put these in a parmigiana-style dish, but I’m glad I did. This easy, deeply flavoured recipe has been the hit of the summer with my family and friends. It is a company dish – pre-prepped to bake alongside a fat, olive-studded focaccia – when needed. It is a family dish – eaten after hockey practice and before homework at the kitchen table. Solo leftovers too are fabulous, warmed and accompanied by a glass of red wine and your favourite podcast.
But if we have a burst of late summer heat I will be more than happy to dig out the shorts, and whap out a salad – to have alongside a greedy slab of Vegetable Parmigiana. I reckon it’s perfect for any season.
How is the weather where you are? Are you anticipating spring? Still sweating in skimpy cotton dresses (grrr)? Popping on the heating? What are you craving NOW??
Chard, Potato and Eggplant Parmesan
A delicious late-summer jackpot of a recipe, done alla parmigiana. Not just eggplant, but chard, potatoes, garlicky oil and a simple homemade sauce, layered up and covered in gooey cheese and earthy porcini breadcrumbs. Hearty yet light; a vegetarian recipe the whole family will love. xx
2 medium-large eggplants, cut into one-centimetre (-ish) slices
3 tbsp olive oil, divided use
200g chard, sliced into ribbons
400g boiled potatoes, sliced into thick coins*
4 garlic cloves, smashed and thinly sliced
700ml favourite tomato sauce (here is my tomato sauce recipe)**
200g low-moisture (slicing) mozzarella OR wet (ball) mozzarella OR vegan alternative, grated or thinly sliced
40g vegetarian hard Italian cheese (Waitrose has a really good one), grated OR vegan alternative
10g panko crumbs or other dry breadcrumbs
1g dried porcini mushrooms, blitzed to a powder – optional
Preheat the oven 180C fan/200C/400F. Oil two baking sheets with a little of the olive oil. Brush each eggplant slice with oil and lay on the baking sheets. Bake for 25 minutes, turning halfway through.
While the eggplants are baking, boil the chard in salted water for five minutes then drain, pressing out most of the moisture.
Lightly saute the garlic most of the remaining oil until slightly coloured. Scrape the garlic and most of the oil into a small bowl. Keep some of the oil in the pan and add the panko crumbs and porcini powder, stirring to coat. Keep off the heat.
Take a ceramic, glass or enamelled dish about 20 cm in diameter and daub in a little of the sauce to just moisten the bottom. Lay on half of the eggplant slices, top with half of the cooked chard, half of the sliced potatoes and drizzle with garlic and oil. Spread over half of the sauce. Carry on with another layer of each then sprinkle over the cheeses. Finally, sprinkle over the porcini breadcrumbs and slide the dish into the oven to bake for 45 minutes.Remove from the oven and drizzle with a little more olive oil if you wish, and maybe sprinkle with extra breadcrumbs you’ve crisped in a little oil. Serve warm, rather than piping hot, with a sharp green salad and perhaps some focaccia.
* Nutrition Tip: Starchy foods naturally raise blood sugar, but when some – potatoes, pasta, rice – are cooked and cooled they change molecular structure to a type your gut can’t easily break down. The food now contains more ‘resistant starch’, essentially becoming indigestible fibre. This results in a much lower impact on blood sugar, and lessened calorie intake (because you aren’t digesting the starch element). Resistant starches also trigger hormones that make us feel fuller, possibly helping us to eat less over time. Sounds good, huh? For maximum impact on whittling the cals, cook and cool the potatoes the day before you wish to eat them. Same with pasta and rice.
** I rehydrated a small handful of porcini mushrooms in hot water then chopped and added them to my cooking tomato sauce, before blitzing to a smooth-ish sauce. I also didn’t add garlic or basil to my sauce.
Soft food diet: Peel the eggplant before slicing and baking. Carry on with the recipe as written, making adjustments according to your needs.
RIPE FOR PINNING!