Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Spicy Mince on Aubergine Slices

This spin on the ubiquitous "mince on toast" has become a favourite of mine ever since I tried something similar in a local cafe. A slice of aubergine (or eggplant if you must) replaces the carbs, making it a delicious but light dish.

I did my own take on it back home and it's now a regular, simple supper, even winning over the "not too fond of aubergine" person (too bad if he's just being polite!).

Use your favourite bolognese or savoury mince sauce. For two people, one large aubergine should be enough and there may even be sauce left over for another mince dish - just depends on your appetite.

Here's my simple (but very adaptable) bolognese sauce.

Bolognese Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
500g premium beef mince
1 tin (400g) crushed Italian tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup water
1 beef stock cube, crumbled
a few drops of Lea & Perrins worcestershire sauce (optional)
1/2 tsp each of dried basil, oregano & sugar
salt & pepper

Optional but recommended: add fresh chopped herbs e.g. basil, oregano, thyme once cooked. Coriander is nice if you are using the sauce for spicy dishes.

Heat oil in a medium-large saucepan. Add onion and garlic and cook gently, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes until onion is translucent and soft.

Turn heat up, add mince, stir constantly over high heat, breaking it up as you go. Cook until browned.

Add tin of tomatoes, tomato paste, water, stock cube (crumble into sauce), dried herbs, sugar, salt and pepper and simmer over a low heat for 20-30 minutes (add a little water if it begins to dry).

Turn off the heat and stir in fresh herbs, if using.

Sauce can be chilled in fridge or frozen.

To make the Spicy Mince on Aubergine Slices (use a ridged grill pan or outdoor barbecue).

This isn't so much a recipe, more a few ideas on how to put together.

One large aubergine (for two serves)
Olive oil
pre-made bolognese sauce (see above)
fresh chilli or hot chilli or harissa paste
grated cheddar cheese or mozzarella
fresh, chopped coriander leaves
sour cream

Spice up the bolognese sauce by adding a finely diced fresh chilli pepper or hot chilli sauce or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of harissa paste or any other little wonder sauce (check the heat is to your taste).

Preheat the grill and the barbecue (if you are using a barbecue for aubergines).

Place the ridged grill pan on a medium heat whilst you prepare the aubergine. Rinse the aubergine and dry. Remove top and bottom. Cut into 1cm thick long slices (see photo above). If you leave the curvy bits on it makes it difficult to cook evenly so trim to make both sides flat.

Brush some olive oil on one side of aubergine slices and place oil side down on pre-heated ridged grill pan. Cook until brown on underside. Brush more oil on top side then turn over slices and cook until browned and tender. Transfer to a warm plate. If aubergine slices are too oily, place them on paper towels.

Put cooked aubergine slices on a baking tray. Spoon spicy mince evenly over top.  Grate some cheddar cheese (or mozzarella) on top.  Place under the baking tray under the grill until the cheese has melted.

Transfer to warm serving plates and top with a spoonful of sour cream, a drizzle of hot chilli sauce and a sprinkle of freshly chopped coriander leaves.

Serve on its own or with a salad.