I try to eat seasonal (and locally-produced) foods as much as possible – not only is it better for the environment, but produce that is grown in season quite simply tastes better. During the dark and rainy depths of winter, I sometimes find it a bit difficult to stick to seasonal foods when I’d really like a bit of sunshine in my life and there are some lovely, bright-looking red peppers and courgettes staring me in the face in Tesco’s. During the summer, however, eating seasonally is pretty easy-peasy. There are just so many seasonal vegetables and fruit that suddenly we’re all spoilt for choice for a few months (sounds awful, doesn’t it?).
Although it is technically summer at the moment, the weather appears to be completely unaware of this, and a few days ago Edinburgh was subject to some serious thunder and lightning accompanied by torrential rain that was more akin to a tropical rainstorm than anything else (although significantly colder). Clearly it’s not just during the depths of winter that there’s a distinct lack of sunshine here in Scotland. At least all the summery vegetables are actually in season at the moment, which helps to bring a little bit of sunshine into the kitchen at least, so when we happened across a recipe for a summery aubergine and lamb gratin the other day, we decided to test it out, partly hoping that it would inspire the sun to make an appearance… It didn’t, but the recipe was super easy to prepare and turned out to be rather yummy – it would be great if you’re having people over for a summery dinner since it can be prepared in advance and bake away by itself whilst people arrive or the starters are served. Although we used lamb mince, it’s also a great way to use up any left-over mince, which is always a bonus. Since aubergines and lamb are both in season at the moment I’m submitting this recipe to the July Simple and in Season blog event over at Fabulicious Food.
Aubergine & lamb gratin
Adapted from my mum’s folder of random recipes
Although we used lamb mince, this would also work with beef mince, and is a great way to use up any left-over mince. We tried splitting the aubergines into two layers with the beef in the middle, but this resulted in some slightly dry aubergine slices in the top layer, so next time I make this I’ll put all the aubergine slices on the bottom, and I’ve adjusted the recipe to reflect this. This works as an entire course by itself, but if you feel you need more, it would be lovely with couscous.
1 big aubergine
1 clove garlic
200g lean lamb mince
Handful fresh parsley
½ tin of chopped tomatoes or 2 tbsp tomato paste
2-3 tbsp breadcrumbs
10g unsalted butter
1. Cut the aubergine into 5mm slices, place them in a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave them to sit and drain for about an hour. Pat dry with kitchen roll. Chop the onions and finely chop the garlic. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
2. Heat some oil in a large frying pan and sauté the aubergine slices until just golden.
3. In another frying pan, heat some oil and add the onions and garlic and cook for 10 mins. Add the meat, cook until browned, then add the chopped tomatoes (or tomato paste), finely chopped parsley and seasoning, and fry for a further 5 mins.
4. Layer the aubergine slices in an oven-proof dish, followed by the meat, onion and tomato mixture. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top to cover, and add a few tiny cubes of butter.
5. Bake in the oven for 45mins and serve hot.