Warming and delicious with three different types of cheese, this pasta bake is an ingenious way to get your kids to happily eat aubergine.
- 2 aubergines, cut lengthways into 1cm slices
- Salt flakes and black pepper
- 300g rigatoni
- 3tbsp olive oil, plus extra for the dish
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 red chilli,deseeded and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 500g lean minced beef
- 3tbsp tomato purée
- 2tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 × 400g cans chopped tomatoes
- Handful of basil leaves, finely chopped
- 600g low-fat cottage cheese, drained
- 100g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 125g ball of mozzarella cheese, sliced
Put the aubergine slices in a colander, sprinkle generously with salt and stand the colander over a bowl for 15–20 mins to draw out the water.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta for 8–10 mins, or according to packet instructions, until al dente. Drain, drizzle with 1tbsp of the oil, season and toss. Set aside
Heat another 1tbsp of the oil in a sauté pan over a medium heat and cook the onion, chilli and garlic for 2–3 mins, stirring. Add the minced beef and cook for another 5–6 mins, until it’s browned all over. Add the tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce, season, then add the tomatoes and basil.Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 mins. Preheat the oven to 190ºC (375ºF, gas mark 5).
Meanwhile, rinse the salt from the aubergine slices and pat dry with kitchen paper. Pour the remaining oil into a large nonstick frying pan or griddle placed over a high heat, and fry or griddle the aubergine for 1–2 mins on each side until golden brown. You may need to do this in batches.
Lightly oil a 22 × 28cm (8½ × 11in) deep ovenproof dish. Lay a third of the aubergine into the dish, then spread over half the pasta. Add half the cottage cheese, then half the minced beef and a third of the Parmesan. Repeat the layers, then finish with the remaining aubergine slices and Parmesan. Arrange the mozzarella evenly over the top. Bake for 30 mins, until bubbling around the sides. Serve hot.
Top tip: Prepare in advance and pop into the oven an hour before you're ready to eat!