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Angela Casley offers a trio of hearty, comforting recipes to fortify us against the colder nights.
All the vegetables can be prepared ahead of time. Change them up with other ingredients if you like — a slice of avocado, a piece of spicy chorizo or fresh tomato. They can also be served cold or warmed for 10 minutes.
1 eggplant, cut in 1cm slices
1 courgette, sliced thinly lengthways
¼ cup olive oil
1 red pepper, roasted
1 ball mozzarella
4 tsp pesto
½ cup basil leaves
Salt and pepper, to season
1 Tbsp each balsamic vinegar and olive oil, to drizzle
1 Tbsp toasted pine nuts
1. Rub the eggplant and courgette slices generously with olive oil. Either barbecue or cook in a hot frying pan until cooked and golden. Cool to room temperature.
2. Slice the roasted pepper into strips. Slice the mozzarella into 1cm slices.
3. To build the stacks, place a piece of eggplant on the base, a slice of mozzarella, smother with pesto, add sliced peppers, courgette and basil leaves, and top with another slice of eggplant. Season as you go.
4. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil to finish and garnish with a sprinkle of pine nuts.
Sticky pear and peach pudding
I like to serve this with custard or creme fraiche and, if there’s any left over, it’s just as delicious reheated the next day.
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup boiling water
410g tinned peaches, drained
2 ripe pears, peeled and quartered
200g butter, softened
½ cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
¾ cup self-rising flour
1 tsp baking powder
To serve, creme fraiche or lightly whipped cream
1. Preheat an oven to 180degC. Grease the base of an ovenproof pudding dish.
2. Place the brown sugar and ¼ cup of water in a small pot and bring to the boil for 2 minutes. Remove and toss the fruit in the liquid. Set aside.
3. Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla and grated ginger. Fold through the cinnamon, flour and baking powder.
4. Using a slotted spoon remove the fruit from the sugar mixture and place into the base of your pudding dish. Reserve the liquid. Spoon over the batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes until soft and spongey. Remove and cool for 10 minutes.
5. Spoon over the reserved brown sugar liquid.
6. Serve with a good dollop of creme fraiche or lightly whipped cream.
Chicken thighs with eggplant and tomato pickle
Add this pickle to an array of dishes. Replace the chicken with tofu, dollop the mixture on to a roast, or spread in a toasty. This recipe makes enough to last for a few dishes.
Makes 2 cups
¼ cup olive oil
1 red onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp grated ginger
¼ tsp cinnamon, decent pinch cayenne
1 eggplant, peeled, chopped small
4 tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp tomato paste
¼ cup honey
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 small chicken thighs
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp turmeric
Salt and pepper
Rice and a green vegetable, to serve
1. In a heavy-based pot, warm the oil. Add the onion, garlic and ginger, cooking slowly until softened. Stir through the cinnamon and cayenne, then add the eggplant, tomatoes, water, paste and honey, stirring well. Cover and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes or until the mixture has softened. Cook for a little longer if needed. Cool for 10 minutes then blitz well, using a hand stick or blender. Season to taste.
2. Rub the chicken thighs with the oil, turmeric, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Cook in a large frying pan until golden and cooked through.
3. Serve the chicken hot with rice, a green and a good spread of pickle.