Growing up with an Italian background allowed me to experience the wonderful culinary sensations that my Nonna would create for us. She was quite experimental with new recipes and would often use meals as a way of bringing the family together, or even learn by helping cook. We would often gather the family once a year to cook homemade ravioli and pasta together. I don’t know how many of you have tried this before, but it is definitely not an easy task – whether you’re an Italian masterchef like Nonna, or not. She would begin preparing the ravioli mince at 5am and we would join her at 6am to begin the tedious task of creating the tiny mince parcels. The cooking process would generally finish around 11am, after we had made around 80 dozen ravioli. The ravioli would then be packaged by the 2-3 dozen and frozen to be brought out for special occasions throughout the year.
Tonight I bring a recipe inspired by my Italian heritage and my Nonna – a Bolognese Vegetable Stack.
- The base of this meal is roasted eggplant, which comprises many great health benefits, mainly its high fibre content. Fibre is generally quite heavy, which allows you to feel fuller and eat less (Generally the case with bread, but even better when it’s a vegetable!)
- The next vegetable is roast pumpkin. According to the National Institutes of Health, a cup of pumpkin contains over 200% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin A, which helps aid vision and strengthen the immunity system.
- Last but not least, the bolognese sauce which is based on diced tomatoes and red mince, both of which are proven to help reduce the risk of heart disease.
I hope you enjoy this unique taste of my Italian heritage. Please provide feedback or photos if you try the recipe, because I would love to see how you go!
Bolognese Vegetable Stack
2 pieces of eggplant *
8 small, thin pieces of pumpkin to cover slices of egglant
200g diet beef mince
1/2 diced onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp tomato sauce (no sugar added)
1 handful of spinach
1/2 tsp of parsley, oregano and basil (each)
Shredded cheese to serve
1. While the onion and mince are browning in a pan, add the eggplant and pumpkin to the oven at 180 degrees.
2. Once onion and mince are almost cooked, add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add tomato, tomato paste, tomato sauce, herbs and pepper to saucepan. Reduce to a low heat. 5 minutes before taking step 4, add spinach to sauce.
4. Once eggplant and pumpkin are cooked (should take 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the slices), remove them from the oven. Take bolognese sauce off heat.
5. On a tray, place roasted eggplant down first. Layer roast pumpkin on top of eggplant slice and place 2-3 tbsp of the bolognese mince on the pumpkin. Sprinkle with cheese and place back in the oven until cheese is melted.
6. Remove tray from the oven and allow stack to cool slightly.
* Note: Before roasting the eggplant, cut the two sliceds off and sprinkle both sides with salt. Place them on paper towel and leave for 15-20 minutes. You will notice that they release a brown oil, which is quite bitter to taste. Wipe the oils off both slices, then place in the oven to be roasted.