The problem with vegetarians is… you often tend to panic and think that you have no idea what you can feed them. Over the years we have had a number of friends who are vegetarians come to stay and there has always be a slight concern at the time about what we were going to feed them.
However, I think it is true for most people that when they think of what they can feed a vegetarian they for some reason automatically think quiche. This can present potential problem for those of you who follow a traditional short-crust pastry recipe which includes lard… Yes it has happened in our household – but, breathe a sigh of relief the mistake was caught in time (funnily enough by vegan who was also staying with us) and the error of our ways were corrected. (Please note this mistake has not happened since that incident!).
Once you get past the initial panic and actually think about it, there really is so much that you can cook for a vegetarian. Having lived with a vegetarian for a year I was introduced to a whole wealth of ideas, butternut squash and sage risotto, vegetable cous cous, vegetable curry, roasted vegetable pasta, some really interesting salads and mezze dishes, vegetable tarts as well as a whole host of things that involved cheese in some form or another.
One recipe I have been working on lately involves roasted summer vegetables with mozzarella, it has a somewhat Mediterranean feel to it as it involves a rich tomato sauce. This recipe will certainly allow you to tick off one if not two of your necessary 5 a day fruits and vegetables. It seems to go down quite well in our house so I thought I would share it – I hope you enjoy.
Roasted Summer Vegetables layered with Mozzarella and a Rich Tomato Sauce
- 2 aubergines
- 3/4 courgettes
- 1 red pepper
- 2 mozzarella balls
- 1 medium sized onion
- 2/3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 can of tinned tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- salt and pepper
- olive oil for cooking with
- Preheat your oven to 190C fan.
- Cut the aubergines lengthways into 3mm thick slices. Lay the slices out on a tea-towel or some kitchen towel, sprinkle some salt over the aubergines on both side and cover with another tea-towel or kitchen towel and set to one side whilst you prepare the tomato sauce. (This is to draw out some of the bitterness of the aubergine).
- Finely dice the onion, chop the garlic then place in a pan with some oil and the sugar, place on a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft.
- Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, stock cube, thyme, season with salt and pepper, then stir all the ingredients together and leave to simmer on a very low heat whilst you get on with preparing the other vegetables.
- Slice the courgettes lengthways about 3mm in thickness and set aside. Core your red pepper and slice into 8/10 pieces. Place the slices of red pepper onto a tray and put under a medium grill for about 5 minutes when the skin starts to blister.
- Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a saucepan. In batches cook the aubergine for roughly 1-2 minutes on each side until they are soft. Once the aubergines are cooked quickly pan fry all the courgette slices in a little bit of oil to give them a slight colour (this should take no longer than 2 minutes).
- Cut or tear the mozzarella into thin slices.
- Now comes the time to layer up the vegetables, tomato sauce and the cheese. In a medium sized oven proof dish layer up the dish in the following order:
- Tomato Sauce
- Red Pepper
- Tomato Sauce
- Tomato Sauce
- Place the dish in the oven and cook for 35 minutes.
I tend to serve this with a big green salad and garlic bread if I feel like a bit of a treat.