Posts Tagged With: tomato

Melanzane alla Parmigiana

Eggplant Parmigiana

The key here is to make sure the eggplant is well-cooked and therefore slippery and succulent… combined with melted cheese, tomato and basil, well – that’s a marriage made in heaven!

Eggplant parmie!

Fresh from the garden: eggplant, basil, onion, garlic, thyme, carrot
Recipe source: adapted from a recipe by Mario Batali in Molto Mario
Serves: 6 or 24 tastes


  • Pastry brush
  • Baking sheet
  • Paper towel
  • Chopping board & knife
  • Bowls – big, med, small
  • Scales
  • Grater
  • Peeler
  • Frying pan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Plate
  • Measures – cup, ¼ cup, tablespoon, teaspoon
  • Egg slice
  • 4 small baking dishes
  • Pot holders
  • Serving plates

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large eggplant
  • Flaked salt and black pepper
  • 2 cups basic tomato sauce (recipe below)
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • A 200g pot of bocconcini
  • 50g Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs

Basic tomato sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • A handful thyme sprigs
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • Flaked salt


What to do:

  • Preheat the oven to 230C. Using a pastry brush, oil a baking sheet.
  • Wipe the eggplant and then carefully cut each into slices about ½ cm thick – you may need the mandoline for this, set to the thickest setting. Lightly season each disc with salt and pepper and place on the oiled sheet. Bake the eggplant for about 10 minutes until the slices begin turning deep brown on top.

Then make the tomato sauce:

  • Peel the onion and finely chop. Peel the garlic and finely slice. Wash and wipe the thyme dry, and then strip off the leaves to yield 3 tablespoons. Wash, peel and grate the carrot.
  • Then: Heat the olive oil in the frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer until thick. Season with salt to taste.


  • While the eggplant is baking and the sauce is simmering,  you can organise the rest of the dish: pick the basil leaves, wash them well and spin them totally dry. Rolling up a few leaves at a time into a roll, slice them into very fine ribbons (chiffonade).
  • Drain the bocconcini and carefully cut the balls into thin slices.
  • Measure the parmesan and grate it. Weigh the breadcrumbs and have ready.

The stacking game

To complete the dish:

  • When the eggplant slices are done, slide them out of the oven and lower the oven temperature to 180C.
  • We are going to layer the different ingredients into each of the four small baking dishes – to start, sprinkle half a teaspoon or so of olive oil into each dish and then carefully place the largest eggplant slices on top of the oil.
  • Over each slice, spread a spoon or two of tomato sauce over the top and sprinkle with a teaspoon of basil. Place one layer of mozzarella over each and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon grated parmesan. Place the smaller slices of eggplant over each of the discs and repeat with tomato sauce, basil, and the 2 cheeses. Repeat the layering again until all the ingredients are used.
  • Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top of the eggplant dish, and bake uncovered until the cheese melts and the tops turn light brown, about 15/20 minutes.
  • Using pot holders, carefully place on serving plates and serve immediately.

Notes: This dish’s original name is melanzane alla Parmigiana – what does it mean and which language is it from? What other foreign language dishes can you name?

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Garlic bruschetta with tomatoes and basil

We can elevate even the simplest of snacks into works of art by performing a little garlic magic first… And over an open bbq flame at home takes the toast to an altogether more yummy stratosphere…

Fresh from the garden: tomatoes, garlic, basil
Recipe source: Melissa


  • Knives – bread, small
  • Paper towel
  • Salad spinner
  • Bowls
  • Chopping board
  • Grill trays
  • Tongs
  • Oven mitts
  • Garlic press
  • Serving plates

  • A load of great sourdough bread
  • A bowl of tomatoes
  • A few sprigs of basil
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Flaked salt & black pepper

What to do:

  • Heat the grill on high.
  • Wash and gently dry the tomatoes on some paper towel. Carefully slice the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces, taking care not to squeeze all the juice out!
  • Place in a big bowl and drizzle a little olive oil over the whole lot. Peel and then squeeze one clove of garlic through the press into the tomatoes.
  • Pick the basil leaves and wash in a clean bowl of cold water. Spin the leaves dry and then tear into tiny pieces and scatter over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt and a grind of pepper, then gently toss with a large spoon to combine. Leave for the flavours to mingle.
  • Carefully slice the bread – you may find it easier to ask an adult to slice the loaf down the middle lengthways first, and cut each half separately – and place on grill trays.
  • Slide the bread into the oven to grill & lightly toast, and using the oven mitts, turn when needed (watching to make sure it doesn’t burn).
  • When ready bring toast out from the grill using the oven mitts. Cut the end off the remaining garlic cloves (you don’t need to peel them) and rub each cut-side down on the toast a few times.
  • Arrange onto serving plates with a spoonful of tomato mixture on each one. Yum! 

Notes: What happens when you rub the garlic onto the hot toast? What makes bread sourdough bread? Why do we let the flavours mingle?

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Home-made tomato ketchup!

Fresh from the garden: tomatoes, fennel, celery, basil, chilli

Recipe source: adapted from a recipe by Jamie Oliver

We love to try our hands at something home-made, and this tomato sauce is a real winner. A bottle of it makes a great present too!


  • Chopping board & knife
  • Colander
  • Bowls – 2 large, 2 med
  • Heavy-bottomed saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Measures – cup, ½ cup, 1/3 cup, tablespoon
  • Hand blender
  • Funnel and bottles with lids if preserving

  • 1 large red onion
  • 1/2 a bulb of fennel
  • 1 stick of celery
  • olive oil
  • a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 a fresh red chilli
  • a bunch of fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • sea salt
  • 400g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup soft brown sugar

What to do:

  • Peel and chop the onion. Wash, trim and roughly chop the fennel & celery. Peel and roughly chop the ginger and garlic. De-seed and carefully chop the chilli.
  • Wash the basil, pick off the leaves and chop the stalks.
  • Wash and drain the cherry tomatoes and cut them in half.
  • Place all the vegetables in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with a big splash of olive oil and the ginger, garlic, chilli, basil stalks, coriander seeds and cloves. Season with the pepper and a good pinch of salt.
  • Cook gently over a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until softened, stirring every so often. Add all the tomatoes and 1½ cups of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until the sauce reduces by half.
  • Add the basil leaves, then whiz the sauce with the hand blender and push it through the sieve twice, to make it smooth and shiny. Put the sauce into a clean pan and add the vinegar and the sugar. Place the sauce on the heat and simmer until it reduces and thickens to the consistency of tomato ketchup. At this point, correct the seasoning to taste.
  • Serve immediately or keep, covered, in the fridge for up to five days.
  • Or for preserving: Carefully spoon the ketchup through a sterilized funnel into sterilized bottles if using, then seal tightly and place in a cool dark place until needed – it should keep for six months.

Notes: Where does the word ketchup come from? What does to sterilize mean?

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Heirloom Tomatoes

Olly graced me with a second sleep today of two hours, which allowed me to dig the composted cow manure & lovely rich new soil into the cleared garden bed, and plant my new heirloom tomato seedlings. I’m so excited that I managed to achieve it as I usually would procrastinate & not get around to it, and leave the pots out until the little plants fried in the hot spring sun… When I worked at Sean’s Panaroma in the summer they used to make a very simple tomato salad, but the tomatoes were so delicious that you couldn’t believe the flavour in your mouth… I’m going to attempt to grow some of the same crazy ones I saw there: Black Russian, Green Zebra, Black Krim and Lemon Drop as well as Grosse Lisse and Principe Borghese. I hope to have some fabulous looking photos up here by Christmas!

It’s  a lovely feeling, to be making use of the vegetable beds, as I remember when we moved in almost two years ago and I felt such worry to be taking on another person’s established organic garden, with lots of vegetables I couldn’t identify. And I can fully understand how gardening is reccomended to people suffering from depression as it really does uplift the soul – especially when you see your seeds show their little green heads for the first time, and your seedlings flourish.

So, in anticipation  of a bumper crop of huge tomatoes in a few months’ time, here is my recipe for a wonderful and sneaky tomato/veggie sauce – perfect for pasta & rice, for kids big and small…

Sneaky Tomato Sauce
6-8 ripe tomatoes
a stick of celery
a carrot
a zucchini/some broccoli/whatever else!
half an onion
a clove of garlic
a few basil leaves
olive oil & salt
2 saucepans & a hand-held blender

Start by filling up one of the saucepans with water & setting over high heat to boil. In the meantime, chop up the onion and start to fry it off in the other saucepan with quite a good glug of the olive oil. After a minute or so add the chopped up carrot & celery and fry them off on high for a few minutes too. Then drop the heat to simmer, sprinkle a little salt over the top and sweat with the lid on while you do the next stage.

With the 1st pan of water boiling, drop the tomatoes in for 3 or 4 minutes. In the meantime chop up the zucchini or other veggies & add to the onion, carrot & celery. The tomatoes by this time should be ready to be pulled out to cool slightly – the skins now should be easy to peel off, if not put the tomatoes back in for another minute. Once all are peeled chop them up roughly and add to the veggies, with the crushed garlic & half a cup of water. Now bring up to the boil and then immediately turn down to simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring every so often.

If I’m in the middle of a hundred things, I leave the pot with the lid on, to rest until I’ve got time to add the basil & whizz it all up to a smooth sauce, and then pour it all into containers to freeze or chill or eat.

Que aproveche!

Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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