Gnocchi with roasted red peppers, aubergines and chilli

Romano peppers (long pointed red peppers) are currently in season and I love making the most of them during late summer. This is a really easy, veg packed gnocchi recipe and it’s perfect for a vegetarian/meat-free meal. If you are looking to make this a vegetarian meal, make sure to use a vegetarian hard cheese instead of the Grana Padano. Serve with fresh green salad on the side.

Romano peppers & garlic pre-cooking

An easy way to peel peppers once cooked and still hot, is to leave them in a bowl and seal with clingfilm for a 5-10 minutes. After that, the peal should easily come off, though be careful as the peppers will still be hot.

This is a recipe from Waitrose & Partners magazine.

More with Aubergines: Melanzane Parmigiana with Green Salad | Potato and aubergine curry | Charred Aubergine, pepper and bulgur salad

Gnocchi with roasted red peppers, aubergines and chilli

Gnocchi with roasted red peppers, aubergines and chilli

Serves 4 | Prep 25 mins | Cook 30 mins
A little effort | Meat free

You’ll need:

  • 4 romano peppers, halved and deseeded;
  • 2½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil;
  • 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled and bashed;
  • 1 large aubergine (about 300g), cubed;
  • handful basil leaves;
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded;
  • 50g grana padano, grated;
  • 500g pack essential Waitrose fresh gnocchi;
  • 40g wild rocket /or other green salad to serve.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7. Toss the peppers in 1 tsp olive oil, season and arrange skin-side up on a baking tray with the garlic. Brush a second baking tray with 2 tsp oil, then add the aubergine; season. Put both trays in the oven to roast for 20-25 minutes (peppers on the top shelf ), turning the aubergine occasionally. Meanwhile, put the basil leaves, chilli and most of the grated cheese into a food processor, then whizz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Remove the vegetables from the oven, then carefully peel and discard the skin from the peppers and garlic cloves (see introduction for a tip). Add the roasted garlic and half the peppers to the food processor with the remaining 1½ tbsp oil; whizz to a semi-smooth paste and season. Tip into a large pan with the aubergine. Cut the remaining peppers into strips and add to the pan.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the gnocchi and cook for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, gently heat the pepper and aubergine sauce. Drain the cooked gnocchi, then tip into the sauce, tossing through. Divide between plates, piling the rocket or green salad alongside and scattering over the remaining cheese.

Original recipe from Waitrose and Partners magazine, issue August 2020, available online here.

1 post has been published on the blog on Aug 26th in a previous year:

2018: Spaghetti Carbonara

Ricotta, Spinach & Aubergine Lasagne

The sauce you have to make for this vegetarian lasagne is more than you’ll need. You can use the leftovers to make a simple pasta dish (see below). The vegetarian lasagne is perfect for hitting your 5-a-day and it makes a fantastic family meal for four. Since it’s just two of us, I enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the day after…

I have adapted the recipe below from Waitrose magazine, issue September 2019.

More with aubergines: Potato and aubergine curry | Charred Aubergine, pepper and bulgur salad | Melanzane Parmigiana with Green Salad

Ricotta, Spinach & Aubergine Lasagne

Serves 4 | Prep 20 mins | Cook 1hr
Easy | Vegetarian



You’ll need:

  • 3 aubergines, cut into 2cm chunks;
  • 2 tbsp olive oil;
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced;
  • ½-1 tsp chilli flakes;
  • 3 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes;
  • 2 tsp capers, roughly chopped;
  • 20g basil, leaves torn;
  • 250g ricotta;
  • pinch of nutmeg;
  • 250g frozen spinach, defrosted and drained in a sieve;
  • pack of fresh lasagne sheets;
  • 10g Parmesan, or vegetarian alternative
  • green salad, to serve.

Preheat the oven to 220˚C/ 200˚C fan/ gas mark 7. On a baking tray, toss the aubergines with 1 tbsp oil then season. Roast for 15-20 minutes until turning golden.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in a large frying pan, add the garlic and chilli flakes and cook gently for 5 minutes to soften. Tip in the tomatoes and capers, bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer gently for 20 minutes. As soon as the aubergine is ready, add to the tomato sauce and simmer until the sauce has thickened and the aubergine is soft (5-10 minutes).  Stir in the basil and season. Turn down the oven to 200˚C/ 180˚C fan/ gas mark 6. You only need 2/3rds of the sauce, so put 1/3 aside in Tupperware – you can freeze or make the Spaghetti meal for 2 suggested below.

While the tomato sauce is cooking, mix the ricotta, spinach and a pinch of nutmeg in a bowl. Season.

In the base of a small oven dish (about 18cm x 28cm) spread 1/3 of the tomato sauce, top it with a single layer of fresh lasagne sheets, then spread the spinach and ricotta mixture on top, followed by another layer of pasta. Top with another 1/3rd of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle over freshly grated Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative) and bake for 30-35 mins. Serve with a green salad.

What to do with the leftovers:

Cook 180g spaghetti until al dente, as per pack instructions. Warm up the tomato sauce and mix  through the drained spaghetti. Top with a few torn basil leaves and grated Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative). Serves 2.

Adapted from Waitrose and Food Partners magazine recipes, September 2019 issue. Full recipe available in magazine, and part of it is available online here.

1 post has been published to the site Food Notes on Oct 16th in a previous year:

== 2018 ==
* Lamb tagine with dates & sweet potatoes

Melanzane Parmigiana with Green Salad

As you might know, I’m a recent convert when it comes to eating aubergines. It is dishes like this one that are converting me though. Grilled aubergines covered in a rich and herby tomato sugo and plenty of cheese… Of course it is mouthwatering! As tasty as this is, though, it’s also a little fussy. However, fear not, as the fuss is well worth the delicious meal you will have later! This Melanzane Parmigiana goes really well with garlic bread or focaccia on the side and served along some fresh green salad.

More in Meat Free mains: Super Easy Tomato Pasta Bake; Squash, Taleggio and Sage Pizza; Roast pumpkin, sage and taleggio risotto.

Melanzane Parmigiana with Green Salad

Serves 6 | Prep 30 mins |Cook 1hr 25 mins
A little effort | Meat free | Vegetarian if vegetarian alternative to Parmesan is used


You’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing;
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed;
  • 3 thyme sprigs;
  • 8 large sage leaves, finely chopped;
  • 4 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes;
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar;
  • 3 tsp sugar;
  • 6 large aubergines, sliced lengthways as thinly as you can;
  • 100g Parmesan or vegetarian parmesan-style cheese, finely grated;
  • 85g white breadcrumb;
  • 50g pine nuts;
  • 2 x 125g balls vegetarian mozzarella cheese, torn into small chunks;
  • handful basil leaves.

For the salad:

  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped;
  • 50g green olive, finely chopped;
  • 2 tbsp olive oil;
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar;
  • 2 tsp golden caster sugar;
  • 6 big handfuls mixed green salad leaves.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan (or wide saucepan), add the garlic, thyme and sage, and cook gently for a few mins. Tip in the tomatoes, vinegar and sugar, and gently simmer for 20-25 mins until thickened a little.

Meanwhile, heat a griddle (or frying) pan. Brush the aubergine slices on both sides with olive oil, then griddle in batches. You want each slice softened and slightly charred, so don’t have the heat too high or the aubergine will char before softening. Remove to a plate as you go.

In a large baking dish, spread a little of the tomato sauce over the base. Mix 25g of the Parmesan with the breadcrumbs and pine nuts, and set aside. Top the sauce with a layer or two of aubergine slices, then season well. Spoon over a bit more sauce, then scatter over some mozzarella, Parmesan and basil leaves. Repeat, layering up – and finish with the last of the tomato sauce. Scatter over the cheesy breadcrumbs and chill for up to 24 hrs, or bake straight away.

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Bake for 30-40 mins until the top is crisp and golden, and the tomato sauce bubbling. Rest for 10 mins.

Meanwhile, make the salad. Whisk the olive oil, vinegar and sugar, then stir in the chopped olives and onion. Season. Tip the leaves into a bowl. Drizzle the olive dressing over and toss gently to coat.

Scatter the Parmigiana with basil leaves and serve with the salad and focaccia.

Original recipes from BBC Good Food issue May 2013. Melanzane Parmigiana available online here and green salad, here.

Previously posted on Food Notes on this date – May 28th

== 2018 ==
* Golden Layer Cake with Buttercup Icing :

Potato and aubergine curry

I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of aubergines. I associate them with a unappealing mushy texture and bitter flavour. However, this summer I’ve been pushing myself to rediscover ingredients that I have thought for a long time that I don’t like. I’ve opened up to asparagus, broccoli and this recipe has definitely helped me appreciate an aubergine a lot more. I still can’t say I love them, but I know that cooked in the right way and paired with the right ingredients, they can be fantastic. So this recipe isn’t just for those of you who love a veggie curry anyway, it’s also for any others around here who don’t really like aubergines. I promise you, this curry might just change your mind about them. Take this from someone who has actively avoided aubergines for a fair few years.

Potato and aubergine curry

Serves 4 | Prep 20 minutes | Cook 40 minutes  | Vegan, Gluten-free | Easy


Tip: If you want to save a little time, you can use 3 tbsp ready made Tikka curry paste instead of making your own.

You’ll need:
For the Tikka Curry Paste (makes roughly 3 tbsp):
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled;
  • 4cm piece of ginger, peeled;
  • 2 red chillies (deseeded if you prefer less spice);
  • 1 tsp ground cumin;
  • 2 tsp ground coriander;
  • 1 tsp paprika.
For the curry:
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil;
  • 1 red onion, sliced;
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed;
  • 10 curry leaves;
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes;
  • 500 ml vegetable stock;
  • 500g new potatoes, sliced into thick disks (no need to peel);
  • 1 aubergine, cut into 2 cm dice;
  • 400g can coconut milk;
  • Chopped coriander (to serve).

First, make the curry paste. Put all the ingredients into a blender and mix on a medium speed until you have a paste. Set aside.

Tikka curry paste: all the ingredients required

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or casserole dish. Fry the onion, garlic and curry leaves for 10 minutes on low heat, until the onion has softened. Stir in the curry paste and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, stock, potatoes and aubergine. Bring to a simmer, add a little seasoning, then cover and cook for 30 minutes, removing the lid for the final 10 minutes. Finally, stir in the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Season.

Serve the curry scattered with coriander and with rice or naan bread.

Original recipe for the Potato and Aubergine Curry is from BBC Good Food magazine, issue June 2012, not available online.

Original recipe for the curry paste from Kenwood World, available here.