Cheesy aubergine gratin

On our recent trip to London (see here) we had lunch at the lovely cafe in the V&A (definitely the best of the museum eateries available in S. Ken) and I had aubergine baked with tomato sauce and cheese. It doesn’t sound like much, granted, but it was really delicious, so when I found aubergines and a ball of spare mozzarella in the fridge, it seemed a perfect opportunity to attempt to recreate it at home.

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to make this aubergine gratin, and it definitely scores extremely highly on the effort/yum ratio. I reckon it also looks impressive enough to serve at a dinner party, if you were looking for a fancy vegetarian main course to impress your friends with.

Aubergines are always a big hit in our house. Along with pesto, ice-cream, anchovies and chocolate, they definitely rank among Kipper’s favourite foods. So I felt confident that even if I missed the V&A’s recipe by a mile, this aubergine gratin would still get a warm reception. I was right. Kipper ate a full portion (half an aubergine) and DH and I had a half-aubergine each, then split the last half between us. For this reason, I’d say this recipe serves 2-4 people, depending on how hungry/greedy you are.

cheesy aubergine gratin

Cheesy aubergine gratin

Cheesy aubergine gratin

You will need:
2 medium aubergines
2 tbsp olive oil (or thereabouts)
3 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp pesto
1 ball mozzarella – mine was 125g, are they a standard size?
50g grated cheddar cheese
15g dried breadcrumbs

What to do:
Preheat the grill to its highest setting.
Cut the aubergines in half lengthways, and score the flesh in a criss-cross pattern. Brush the cut sides with olive oil, and place the aubergine halves cut-side-up in a baking dish. Grill for 5-8 minutes until softened and starting to brown.
Turn the aubergine halves over and grill for a further 4-5 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the tomato puree and pesto together with 1 tbsp olive oil. Slice the mozzarella into 8 slices. Mix the grated cheddar and breadcrumbs together.
Retrieve the aubergines from under the grill. Turn cut-side-up again.
Turn off the grill and turn the oven on to 180C.
Spread a quarter of the tomato mixture over each aubergine half. Top with two slices of mozzarella and a quarter of the cheddar-crumb mixture per aubergine half. Bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melting, the crumbs are golden, and the aubergine gratins are piping hot throughout. Serve and enjoy!

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