A few weeks ago I had a sensational meal at our favorite gastropub, The Northgate. The Northgate’s menu is constantly changing, and they usually only have one vegetarian main on offer, a veggie soup, and one or two veggie starters. The options are few, but I don’t mind – the food is almost always delicious and I kind of like having my mind made up for me. I generally go for the soup+salad+bread option as their bread is excellent and the veggie main dish is almost always risotto which Tim makes way better at home.
On this recent trip to the Northgate, the main sounded unusually intriguing… “baked courgette filled with red pepper, sweetcorn, feta + “diu” (whatever that is) on tomato ragu and rocket salad.
I like the dish’s use of so many seasonal veggies: zucchini, pepper, tomato, corn, eggplant. As I already said, it rocked my world. The chef in me couldn’t keep from trying to reproduce it on my own. I think I did a pretty smashing job (see comparison photos above), and I’ve made it twice since. It’s a bit of work, but if you get the ragu cooking and then do the zucchini, the dish comes together in about an hour. I also do a vegan version, subbing tofu mashed with pesto for the feta. A nice crusty loaf of bread is nice accompaniment – perfect for sopping up the ragu.
Feta-Stuffed Zucchini with Eggplant Ragu
I recommend getting the ragu started first (see recipe below) then preparing the zucchini while the ragu simmers.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C.
- Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the inside leaving the zucchinis about 1/4 thick (I use a vegetable corer but a spoon works, as well). Rub the halved zucchini with olive oil and place in a baking tray.
- Finely dice the scooped zucchini and put it in a large bowl.
- Mix the feta, corn, pine nuts and red pepper with the diced zucchini.
- Stuff the zucchini halves with the feta mix. (Any leftover mix can be stuffed into another zucchini, or inside of a bell pepper or two for an extra bonus!)
- Bake the zucchini in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until zucchini are cooked through and the filling has browned.
- To serve, put two zucchini halves on a plate, top with a couple spoonfuls of eggplant ragu and a handful of fresh arugula.
Adapted from Love and Olive Oil’s Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragu and Goat Cheese. It’s very much like a very thick marina sauce. I can see it going well with pasta, or any other recipe that calls for tomato sauce.
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely sliced
1 eggplant, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tin chopped tomatos
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp oregano
pinch of sugar
- Toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt in a colander and drain 30 minutes. Squeeze handfuls of eggplant to extract liquid, then pat dry.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan.
- Add the onion and cook on a medium heat until translucent.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
- Add the eggplant, and mix well with the onion. Turn the heat down low and cover with a lid. Cook until eggplant have softened, stirring occasionally, about 10-15 minutes.
- Add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano sugar and salt. Cook, with the lid off, until the liquid has reduced a bit and you’re left with a thick, delicious sauce.