When I’m trying to cut calories and eat as healthily as possible, I need lots of warm, comforting food to stave off any feelings of deprivation (or desperation). This really delivers. Hot, bubbly, full of vegetables, and ready in about an hour.
I don’t claim any particular credentials in nutritional science, but I reckon half the dish is about 600 calories, plus whatever bread you’re swiping the plate with. As you may have gathered by now, I don’t go in for diets that cut out bread or cheese (or anything, for that matter). I’m aiming for a healthy, sustainable and realistic lifestyle.
Feeds 2, generously
3 medium zucchini / courgette
Salt and pepper
2 large cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp dried oregano
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
500g passata or crushed tomatoes (approx. 2 cups)
1 tsp sugar
200g grated mozzarella
Parmesan, for grating
Small bunch of basil
To serve: crusty bread
Slice the zucchini into thick strips, about 3 or 4 slices per zucchini depending on thickness. (Too thin and it will fall apart during the initial cooking.) Brush each side with a little olive oil and sprinkle over some salt and pepper. BBQ the zucchini slices until softened and charred on both sides. Remove and set aside.
Tip: If you haven’t got a gas BBQ, it’s really not worth firing up a charcoal one for this; either blister in a griddle pan or bake under the grill/broiler on a high heat for a bit of colour.
To make the tomato sauce, add a splash of olive oil, the garlic, oregano, chilli flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper to a cold saucepan. Turn the heat on to medium and cook for a minute or two, until the garlic sizzles. Add the passata and sugar and bring to a bubble. Cook for a couple of minutes, then turn off the heat and set aside.
To assemble, start by adding about ¼ of the tomato sauce to a medium-sized baking dish. Build in layers of zucchini, tomato sauce, whole basil leaves, mozzarella and parmesan, and repeat until you have used everything up. Finish with a layer of parmesan.
Make ahead: At this stage, the prepared parmigiana can be covered in cling film and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before baking.
To bake, heat the oven to 400F / 200C / 190C Fan. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 15 minutes. Let stand a couple minutes before serving alongside some crusty bread.