Seasonal Secrets – Spring farmers market bounty
Spring – it’s everyone’s favourite time of the year surely?! We all perk up a bit after huddling round the fire for months, shed a layer or two of clothing (and of fat, if we can) and cast a glad eye over the fruit and vegetable stalls at the markets as the new seasons produce starts to appear. It’s time to air out the house, the dogs and the kids, see what clothing still fits from the last bout of warm weather and review what we’ve been eating in order to fit into a few more of last years outfits (or is that just me?). Good intentions proliferate, inspired by the gorgeous, fresh harvest available now and visions of fabulously healthy, tasty and low-fat dishes dance about in our heads and even occasionally actually appear on our tables at family mealtimes (or is that just me again?).
A visit to the local farmers market, green-grocers or even the fruit and veg department of the local supermarket is a pretty rewarding thing to do at this time of the year and I come away from my shopping trips with the basket loaded and my mind buzzing with meal ideas. It is still early in the season here, but even so there are some pretty wonderful things to chose from and I love the fresh life that the season breathes into my kitchen.
Along with the new seasonal produce there is plenty that might be just plain new to you, so grab the opportunity to try something different and broaden your culinary horizons (or just startle your kids!).
Try a new version of healthy greens.
Remember that the brighter, intensely coloured vegetables are nutritionally very dense.
And remember that many things that might have the potential to offend the delicate sensitivities of persnickety offspring can be safely secreted in familiar, comforting dishes – thus making everyone happy.
Spinach & Eggplant (Aubergine) Lasagne
Summary: The use of ricotta in this dish reduces the fat levels, without compromising the flavour at all!
- 1 bunch spinach (or silverbeet)
- 2 eggplants diced
- olive oil
- 500 gms ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 1 egg
- 1 packet fresh lasagne sheets
- 700 mls tomato passata (I used a jar of locally made bought stuff)
- fresh basil
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 170C.
- Grease a lasagne dish.
- Shred spinach, rinse in colander. Put into large pan and cook over moderate heat until wilted down. No need to add extra water – the moisture left from rinsing will be enough. Set aside.
- Heat a couple of slurps of olive oil over moderate heat, add eggplant, season well and cook until just soft. Set aside.
- Blend ricotta, egg and parmesan in processor until smooth. If it is too thick, loosen with a little milk until desired consistency.
- Spread a thin layer of tomato passata over base of dish, scatter with some torn basil leaves then cover with a layer of pasta.
- Spread a layer of tomato passata over the pasta, followed by spinach, scattered eggplant and torn basil leaves.
- Cover with a thin layer of ricotta mix.
- Repeat in this fashion for at 3-4 layers, finishing with a layer of pasta covered with ricotta mix. Cover this with a layer of grated mozzarella.
- Bake, covered with foil for 20 minutes.
- Remove foil and continue to bake for another 15 minutes or until pasta is cooked and top brown and bubbly. Stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Number of servings (yield): 6