Aubergine Schnitzel

The spinach on the allotment has gone crazy. I could cut enough to serve four people every other day and still it grows and grows. Not that I am complaining. I can’t get enough of the stuff.

Having eaten more than my fair share of sag paneer of late I thought I’d try something new. This recipe was my own creation but inspired by Leith’s Lentil and Cheshire Cheese Tart and The Gate’s Schnitzel from their first book.

Served with a saffron mash and green vegetables this would make a good dinner party dish to impress your guests.

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First the filling
100g puy lentils
1 bay leaf
vegetable stock
100g bulghar wheat
large bunch of spinach
100g feta cheese – crumbled
1 tablespoon capers – roughly chopped
1 green chili – finely chopped
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
1 egg

Put the lentils in a pan with the bay leaf. Cover with stock and bring to boil then simmer for about 20 minutes until tender but still holding their shape. Drain, discard the bay leaf and leave to cool.

Put the bulghar in another bowl. Add enough boiling water to just cover, put a lid of plate over the bowl and leave for about 15-20 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. If some water remains, drain this off then add to the lentils.

Wilt the spinach in a large pan with a little water. Squeeze as much water as possible from the spinach and chop finely.

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the chili and garlic, stir, then add the spinach. Fry for about 5 minutes then add to the lentil and bulghar mixture.

Now add the crumbled feta, the chopped capers and a beaten egg. Season with salt and pepper, mix well and leave to one side.

Now for the aubergines
4 aubergines
lots of olive oil

Top and tail the aubergines then cut lengthwise into ¾cm slices. Discarding the edge ones that are mainly skin you should get four good slices per aubergine – 16 in total is enough to make 8 schnitzels.

Brush the aubergine slices on both sides with olive oil, place on a baking sheet and bake in a 220C oven for 10-15 minutes until soft and starting to brown. Allow to cool.

The crispy, crumbly coating
3 slices white bread
large bunch parsley

Stick the bread in the food processor along with the parsley and whiz into breadcrumbs. If you don’t have a food processor you could use bought breadcrumbs and add finely chopped parsely. Season well with salt and black pepper. Put the breacrumb mixture onto a large plate.

Take another plate and beat an egg on it.

To assemble and bake
Lay half of the aubergine slices on a chopping board. Divide the lentil mixture evenly between the slices then spread the mixture over each aubergine slice. Take the other 8 slices and place one on top of each lentil-covered slice.

Now carefully lift the aubergine sandwich and place in the beaten egg, making sure both sides are covered. It may be easier to spoon the egg over the aubergine to stop the filling falling out.

Now lift again and place in the breacrumb plate, covering top and bottom in crumbs. Lift again and place on a baking sheet. Do all the schnitzels this way then bake in the oven at 200C for around 25 minutes until the breacrumbs turn golden and the filling is hot.

To make the saffron mash, peel, chop and boil the potatoes. In another saucepan heat some milk or cream with a large knob of butter and a generous pinch of saffron. When the potatoes are cooked, drain, return to the pan then strain the milk to remove the saffron strands and add to the potatoes. Mash until all the lumps have gone.

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