Zucchini, Potato and Carrot Parmagiana

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I love zucchini and had some hanging around in the fridge asking to be used differently from the usual pan searing and anchovy pasta combination. Coupled with some old and on the verge of moldering potato and carrot, I flipped through my recipe books and found Antonio Carluccio‘s recipe for parmagiana. Since I had a bit of time, this was it!

You can use any sliceable vegetable for this, just make sure that they are well dried using paper towel before preparing them for the dish. For the cheese, I didn’t have any mozzarella, taleggio or the eponymous parmesan, so I settled with the cheddar I had. It’s a good melting cheese with very nice flavour, so it worked too. For the tomato sauce, I had a jar of pasta sauce from a while back that I again hadn’t got round to using.  Be warned that  the quality of the tomato sauce  is very important. Some of them can be quite tart, so you’ll have to taste and moderate if necessary by perhaps adding a little sugar, or plain using  a decent brand of sauce! I also had some aglio olio spice powder consisting of garlic, chilli and random herbs, so some of that went into the dish too. It all worked out to be a happy use of leftovers to make a yummy, satisfying dish.

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Ingredients:

2 large zucchini
2 medium carrots
2 large potatoes

1 jar tomato pasta sauce

4 rashers bacon, diced
plenty of olive oil
flour for dredging, about 4 heaped tbsp
3 eggs, beaten

150g cheese, thinly sliced or grated

Method:

  1. Slice the vegetables into long slices, as far lengthwise as you can. You’re looking for long, fairly thin slices of vegetables, about 5mm thickness for the root vegetables. For the zucchini, it can go a bit thicker depending on whether you like to bite into mushy zucchini goodness or prefer less of the mushy burst. Pack the slices into paper towels and leave to dry for about an hour or until you get back round to them.
  2. Meanwhile, get out a big casserole dish that looks like it could fit all the vegetable slices and more. Spoon out a thin layer of pasta sauce and coat the bottom of the  dish.
  3. In a sturdy frying pan, saute the bacon dice in a little olive oil till brown. Sprinkle on top of the pasta sauce layer.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  5. Add some salt and pepper to the flour and mix well. Standby the beaten eggs.
  6. In the same frying pan, add plenty of olive oil till the bottom of the pan is coated. Get ready to fry over medium heat.
  7. Dredge each vegetable slice in the seasoned flour, then coat with egg. Let drip till most of the egg has dripped off, then fry, turning each piece as it turns golden brown.
  8. When golden brown on both sides, transfer each piece to the casserole dish.
  9. When a layer of vegetables has completely covered the pasta sauce, spoon over more sauce for the next layer and also sandwich in a few slices of cheese.
  10. Proceed till you’ve exhausted all the vegetables and cover with a final layer of pasta sauce, topping generously with cheese.
  11. Bake for 30 minutes, turning down the temperature slightly if the cheese starts to burn.
  12. After removing from the oven, let rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Serves 6.

A Very Decadent Breakfast Omelette

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I was a little tired of having the usual cheese or peanut butter in my breakfast sandwich. Inspiration hit when I looked at eggs and cheese sitting around in my fridge.  I wasn’t happy with just a plain cheese omelette. There was some aging  garlic and shallots in a corner of my kitchen, so that went into my recipe, as did some defrosted chopped spinach. I went slightly overboard with the butter for my omelette but that made it extra special and flavourful to perk up my breakfast. I suppose it also helped keep the omelette from sticking to the pan. DC insists that I add this line: he thinks it was very nice.

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Ingredients:

big knob butter
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
3 shallots, sliced thinly
4 nuggets of thawed frozen spinach (about a small handful)
1 small handful grated mature cheddar cheese
4 eggs
generous splash of milk

Method:

  1. Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat, then add the garlic and shallots. Fry till the shallots are soft and start smelling wonderful.
  2. Fish the garlicky shallots out into a large bowl and mix in the spinach and cheese. Season with sea salt and a generous grinding of black pepper. Stir till well combined.
  3. Put the still-buttery pan back on medium, then briskly beat the eggs and milk together. Pour into pan and let set. If bubbles form, burst them with a wooden spatula to help it cook faster. When the omelette has just about set, smear the spinach and cheese mixture gently onto one half.
  4. Carefully fold the omelette over and wait for the cheese to melt. Serve as soon as you can, though it tastes gorgeous cold too.

Makes 2 giant portions or 4 regular ones