This last week has been unusually hot and dry in Cairns, which has been perfect for the vegetable garden.
After getting home from work, I walked into the garden to put the sprinkler on. Yesterday, there was only one eggplant in its full ripe, orange glory. Today, there were a line up of orange and purple eggplants ready to be picked.
There is something absolutely soul satisfying about caring for your plants, picking the fruit from them and then serving them in a delicious meal to your family.
The simplicity of the tomato and basil against the smoothness of the eggplant and the tangy olives are a complete symphony in your mouth.
This is a quick weeknight dish that makes more than enough for 5 very hungry people.
My Eggplant Parmigiana with Olives
2 large eggplants, sliced (1cm thickness)
2 x 400g tins organic diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons organic tomato paste
1 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 cup fresh basil, roughly torn
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Himalayan Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
250g cheese (Feel free to use a mix of your favourites), grated
Turn oven on to preheat at 180 degrees celcius.
I started by slicing length ways the eggplant. Then lay these on a tray and sprinkle a little salt on both sides. This will draw out excess moisture and any bitterness. Leave them on the bench, uncovered for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes, wash the eggplant and drain well.
Meanwhile pour into a bowl the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, crushed garlic, torn up basil leaves, olives and salt and pepper. Mixing this well. Taste for seasoning and add as required.
In an oven safe baking dish (33 x 22.5cm) place into the bottom, a few slices of eggplant, cover this with some of the tomato mixture and cheese. Repeat in the same order until the layers are complete (like making a lasagna).
To finish the dish, spread the breadcrumbs evenly across the top and finish with the last bit of cheese. Pop in the oven and bake at 180 degrees celsius for one hour or until eggplant is soft and cooked.
Remove from oven and enjoy with a basic salad of spinach, sunflower seeds and pepita seeds tossed in a healthy, tangy dressing
Coconut Amino Garlic Dressing
2 tablespoons coconut aminos
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 teaspoon dried tumeric
salt and pepper to taste
Shake well in a glass jar and serve with salad.