I love this dish. It is filling, but supplies about three of your daily veggie requirements. It is also great for a vegetarian dinner party main course and looks impressive. And because it is so tasty, it is great to serve to a meat eater as the aubergine gives it a meaty flavour. I think of a lot of meat eaters baulk at vegetarian/vegan food because they think it will lack flavour and be unsatisfying. Not so this dish.
I include my recipe for pesto. It is important on an anti-CanSur protocol to make your own as you can guarantee that the oil is not compromised and that nothing has been added as a filler. After you make your own you will wonder why you bought those bitter little jars of pesto as nothing beats homemade. Many shop bought pestos include sugar, vegetable fibre (sometimes even bamboo fibre) and nut thickeners as added ingredients, as well as some sort of acid (acetic or citric) to lengthen its shelf life. But homemade pesto is so simple to make and lasts for at least a week (or can be frozen in smaller batches) in the fridge, if you place in a sterilised covered jar and pour in a thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto. This creates a seal that keeps it fresh and colourful, but once it looses its colour it is probably safer not to use it, but it can be added to beans, potatoes, rice and pasta so it is easy to use up. I can buy gorgeous organic basil at my health shop but shop bought is okay if it is potted. Potted herbs are grown in the UK without pesticides (according to the grower who supplies ASDA, Morrisons and the Co-op). By the way, the trick of adding boiling water is a traditional method and makes the pesto creamy rather than just green.
Basil is a highly nutritious herb, rich in anti-oxidants, Vitamin K and manganese, Vitamins A and C, copper and magnesium, plus bio-flavonoids, which is why it is better to make your own because vitamins degrade after a while. Basil has strong anti-inflammatory effects associated with cardiovascular health and protection against CanSur. Besides, it really is the most delicious of herbs with an extraordinary affinity to tomatoes.
Peppers and tomatoes should always be organic as they are treated with a lot of pesticides during their growth, but aubergines are on the Clean 15 List, so as long as you thoroughly wash with a veggie wash, using non-organic should be fine. Be sure to thoroughly de-gorge the aubergine with salt for at least 30 minutes as this gets rid of excess moisture and bitterness and stops them from absorbing too much oil when frying.
150 g quick cook polenta
600 g filtered water
1 scant tsp pink Himalayan salt
large pinch saffron
1 bulb roasted garlic
** 1 cup of Healing Intent
2 red peppers
1 large aubergine/eggplant
3 - 4 large tomatoes, skinned
4 tsp pesto
2 oz grated goat's cheese
50 g organic basil leaves
30 g parmesan cheese
30 g organic pinenuts
80 ml organic Extra-Virgin olive oil
3 cloves of organic garlic
1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
2 tbs boiling water
1. Roast the garlic wrapped in foil in an oven set to 180C for about 25 minutes. When the garlic is soft, squeeze out of the papery skin into a small dish, and mash with the back of a fork.
2. To prepare saffron, toast it in a dry saucepan for about 30 seconds and immediately decant into a small dish and with the back of a spoon crush the filaments into a powder and add a couple of tablespoons of boiling water and allow to steep for 10 minutes.
3. To make the polenta, place the polenta grains in a saucepan with the garlic, saffron and pink salt and add the boiling water and beat quickly to get rid of any lumps. Stir over a low heat (making sure that the polenta does not boil else it will spit and potentially burn your hand) for about 3 - 4 minutes.
4. Line a loaf tin with a sheet of greaseproof paper and pour the cooked polenta into the mould and smooth over with a spoon dipped in water. Allow the polenta to be around 1 inch in thickness. Allow to cool. This can be done ahead.
5. Wash and trim the aubergine and cut into half inch slices. Thoroughly sprinkle with salt on both sides and leave for at least 30 minutes to extract the bitter juices, and then wash and pat dry. Heat coconut oil and fry until golden and soft about 2 - 4 minutes on each side. Drain well and pat with paper towel to remove excess oil.
6. Cut the red peppers in half lengthwise and place cut side down on a baking tray. Roast the red peppers in an oven set at 180C for at least 40 minutes. After they are cooked leave for ten minutes or so to cool and remove the seeds and peel off the skin.
7. For the pesto, place the ingredients in a small food processor, except the water, and blitz until chunky but not smooth. Adjust the seasoning to taste and add the boiling water, blitz again and store.
8. To assemble remove the polenta from the tray and cut with a round cutter and then cut the round in half horizontally like a cake into two equal halves and fry for around 10 minutes on each side until golden. Cut the peppers with the same cutter into four equal rounds.
9. Place the lower polenta half onto a baking tray and add a slice of cooked aubergine, add 2 - 3 slices of tomato and coat with a teaspoon of pesto, add the red pepper and repeat. Finish with a layer of aubergine and top with the second polenta round. Top with grated goat's cheese and finish in an oven set to 200C for around 15 minutes.
10. Serve with dressed organic salad leaves.
** Healing Intent: when cooking foods to heal the body it is important to set your intent. The best way to do this is imagine that you are cooking this dish for yourself or for someone you love who is very ill and that this dish is the only thing that will help in their healing. You will find that the way you handle the food will change, and will not only result in a better dish, but you will feel the food actually nourishing your body and spirit.