Healthy Dinner Idea #6 Aubergine Pizza

Aubergine pizza bases...yum!
Aubergine pizza bases…yum!

There has been a big gap in posts since I first started my blog, however I just had to share these. Before we begin, I need to share my obsession with aubergine. I love aubergine grilled with a little seasoning and olive oil and am managing to find a way to eat it with every dinner. I almost have a breakdown when it isn’t in my local supermarket – and that is quite frequently! Also, on a Tuesday, I have to fend for myself food wise and need something quick, easy and satisfying to eat after an exercise class.

I am also currently on a low(er) carb push at the minute and am aiming for 150g a day. My Fitness Pal is really helpful for this and I have found that I’m making much more healthy food choices. I can’t completely cut a food group out though and even though I’m not shovelling down white pasta at the minute – though if I wanted to, I wouldn’t deny myself – I’m certainly making a few food swaps. I’m no longer having couscous or bulgar wheat at lunch time and am upping the amount of protein I eat as a result. We’ll see how it goes. I certainly feel healthy at the moment and am the only member of the department left who hasn’t had some kind of sickness.

I digress. So, tonight’s dinner had to be an easy one. I simply cut an aubergine into four lengthways and topped with sundried tomato paste and other goodies before baking in the oven on a medium-high temperature for 25 minutes. The aubergine held its shape well and made a perfectly good pizza base. I decided tonight to go with mozzarella, red onion, garlic and chilli flakes.

Aubergine is full of fibre and a good source of B vitamins, which are perfect for me at the moment to help fight the barrage of illnesses at work. The manganese will also be perfect in my quest to have nice hair and skin when I’m a bride in about 11 weeks time. I added to this veggie base with a nice hit of protein from the mozzarella and some red onion for a bit of crunch. I finished with garlic and dried crushed chilli flakes. A feta and olive rocket salad made the perfect accompaniment.

Yum.

You will need – for two people:

1 aubergine, sliced in 4 lengthways

4 tsp of sundried tomato paste

1 garlic clove

1/4 red onion

1 ball mozzarella (about 125g)

sprinkle of chilli flakes

Assemble the aubergine pizzas and place in a pre-heated, medium hot oven for 25 minutes until the aubergine is soft and the cheese is melted and delicious.

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Healthy-ish Dinner Idea #1 Aubergine Bake

Crispy topped aubergine bake with homemade tomato sauce...
Crispy topped aubergine bake with homemade tomato sauce…

I love carbs. There I’ve said it. In the world today many people seem to be obsessed with Atkins or Paleo diets, many a time have I seen on forums, websites etc. “Oh but I’m Paleo, how can you make the recipe Paleo…?”. You can be regarded as some kind of food-criminal if you suggest that you enjoy nothing more than a large bowl of steaming spaghetti carbonara. Made with white pasta, natch.

This recipe did not stem from a desire to have a carb-free tea or to avoid the sluggish, bloated feeling you get from eating pasta. Rather, I wanted to approach it with the meat-free attitude in exploration of alternatives to our staple dinner ingredient: chicken. I found the recipe online and tweaked and meddled with it to suit the cupboard, local supermarket and refined foodie palates(!) it was going to be serving.

It is at heart a vegetable bake, mere mention of this to my partner would normally lead to him sprinting to the butchers or supermarket or stuffing handfuls of ham in his mouth. Quite often, we’ve tried vegetarian meals only to find ourselves commenting, “that would have been nice with a bit of beef.” This one was different though.

You essentially make a spinach and ricotta filling, stuff it inside thin slices of pre-grilled aubergine, roll the whole thing up and shove it a bakeware dish with a smothering of tomato sauce before baking. For the people out there who need a more defined recipe, see below:

1 large aubergine

1 pot of ricotta cheese

1 large bag spinach

nutmeg

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 small white onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic (I’m a huge fan, 1 would probably suffice), finely chopped or crushed

1 tbsp tomato puree

2 tbsps balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp oregano

1 tsp mixed herbs

1 handful breadcrumbs

3 tbsp Parmesan cheese (or veggie alternative)

Preheat your oven, it will need to be on a medium-high heat. Slice your aubergine reasonably thinly lengthways and drizzle with olive oil and seasoning before grilling. Turn over when lightly coloured on one side. Lightly steam the spinach and when cooked, squeeze as much of the excess water out of it as possible. Mix this with ricotta cheese and a sprinkling of nutmeg and seasoning. Drizzle some olive oil into a saucepan and sweat the onions and garlic until cooked but not brown and crunchy. When translucent and soft, tip in the chopped tomatoes and add the puree, vinegar and dried herbs. Let this simmer together for about 5 minutes – or longer if you want an extra-rich sauce. I find that balsamic vinegar is an excellent addition to tomato-based sauces and now never leave it out. Whilst your sauce is simmering, take a piece of aubergine and plop a generous spoonful of ricotta in the middle, roll it up and place seal side down in an ovenproof dish. Cover with your homemade tomato sauce and top with a handful of fresh breadcrumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven until heated through, approximately 20 minutes.

Serve with a side salad and if you want to be extra-naughty some pasta or crusty bread. We both found the side salad to be sufficient as the bake is deceptively filling. Enjoy!