Ricotta and Amaretti stuffed courgette, crispy aubergines, slow cooked tomato sauce

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-sized courgettes (about 15cm long)
  • Salt
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • Olive oil
  • 1 small banana shallot, peeled, very finely chopped
  • 4 amaretti biscuits, finely crumbled
  • 150g ricotta
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Pinch grated nutmeg
  • 1 free range egg
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sprinkling of dried breadcrumbs

Slow cooked tomato sauce

  • ½ clove garlic, very finely sliced and just submerged in olive oil in a small bowl
  • ½ tin chopped tomatoes (be fancy, get the expensive ones – it really does make a difference)
  • ½ bunch fresh basil leaves only
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil

Crispy aubergines

  • ½ a small aubergine cut into 2mm thin rounds (this will be tricky – but take your time. Use a sharp knife – no rush.)
  • c150ml vegetable oil for frying
  • Sea salt

Method

Preheat your oven to 170C Fan /190C electric/Gas Mark 3

Begin by boiling the courgettes, whole, in salted water for about 5 minutes. Lift out and allow to cool before slicing longways and scooping out the seeds and flesh leaving about 1/2 cm of the courgette in tact all round. Roughly chop the flesh and seeds you’ve scooped out and set aside. Turn the courgette shells upside down onto some kitchen towel to dry.

Meanwhile, sweat the shallots in half the butter for 5 minutes. Add the chopped courgette flesh and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add to the ricotta with the amaretti, and thyme. Season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg – err on the side of slightly salty. Add the egg and mix through.

Spoon into the courgette shells and place onto a lightly oiled baking tray. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and dot the remaining butter along each of them. Bake for 25 minutes until golden.

While the courgettes are baking, begin your tomato sauce. Gently fry the garlic in a little olive oil over a low heat until just starting to colour. Add the basil and fry the leaves for about 20 seconds, then add the chopped tomatoes. Bring the heat into them and then reduce to a very gentle simmer.

Season a little with salt, but the sauce will reduce so will become saltier as it does. You can always add more salt later, so take care not to overseason at this stage. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally for 25-30 minutes, until the water has reduced, and the tomatoes are starting to split away from the oil. Adjust seasoning as necessary, and finish with a little of your best extra virgin olive oil.

As the sauce is reducing and the courgettes baking, heat 1/2 cm sunflower or vegetable oil in a frying pan. Once a piece of bread browns in 15 seconds, begin to fry your aubergine slices. Fry in small batches, turning regularly with tongs on until golden. Set aside to drain on kitchen towel.

To serve, arrange the aubergines on the plate and spoon over the tomato sauce. Place the courgettes alongside and garnish with fresh basil and a drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil.