£1 meals: aubergine milanese with pasta and Chinese-inspired aubergine with sticky rice – recipes

A meat-free but substantial meal with a crisp crumb topping a soft inside served with a heap of spaghetti, and marinated aubergine with sticky rice

Comparatively bulky veg that can hold its own, the aubergine can definitely be the star of the show. That's the trick behind cooking for £1: what can I buy that is cheap, but substantial enough to fill up a plate? Aubergine has a luxurious quality that gives it a premium status among vegetables, making it a perfect meat substitute without disappointment.

Aubergine milanese (pictured top)

Here's my meat-free twist on a classic Italian dish. I especially love the contrasting texture of the crisp, seasoned breadcrumbs and the buttery-soft aubergine flesh. Definitely cook this on medium-low heat, so you get a lovely, even, golden color.

  • Prep 10 min
  • Cook 20 min
  • Serves 1
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 handful of breadcrumbs
  • 1 x 1cm-thick slice aubergine
  • Olive oil
  • 100g spaghetti
  • ¼ onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced
  • ⅓ x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

Start by bringing a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Grab three plates and put the flour on one, and season, the beaten egg on another and the breadcrumbs, seasoned, on the third. Dredge the aubergine slice in the flour, then in the egg, and then in the breadcrumbs and fry gently in a splash of olive oil on a medium-low heat for about seven minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente, then drain. In a separate pan, fry the onions and garlic in a splash of olive oil on a medium heat for a few minutes and, just as the garlic starts to brown, add the chopped tomatoes, season and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down into a nice sauce.

Mix the drained pasta with the sauce, adding a little of the cooking water to loosen as required, and serve with the aubergine.

Chinese-inspired aubergine and rice

This intricately presented dish is actually really easy to prepare – just score the aubergine flesh and mix up a simple marinade. The key is getting the marinade to go all sticky as you keep basting the aubergine.

  • Prep 5 min
  • Cook 30 min
  • Serves 1
  • 100g rice
  • Salt
  • 1 aubergine
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 pinch chilli flakes
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and grated
  • 1 pinch of sesame seeds
  • ½ spring onion, cut into thin matchsticks

Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5. Put the rice and 200ml cold water in a saucepan, add a pinch of salt, bring to a boil and cook for about seven minutes, until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked.

Cut the aubergine in half lengthways, score the flesh in a diamond pattern, making sure you don't cut through the skin, and put on an oven tray or dish.

Next, mix the sesame oil, honey, soy, chilli and grated garlic, then spoon over the aubergine and bake for about 20 minutes, periodically spooning the marinade over the aubergine. Once the marinade is nice and sticky and the aubergine is cooked through, pour any remaining marinade from the tray over the top, sprinkle with the sesame seeds and spring onions, and serve with the rice.

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