When it comes to cooking and eating, I find that it is always good to try and kill two birds with one stone. And when I say that, I am not saying that you go out and take aim at a couple of pigeons with a slingshot. Ha! No! I am not suggesting that at all. But if you can solve two problems with one fell swoop of the wooden spoon, then you are onto a winner and everyone loves a winner baby. That’s no lie. I know I certainly felt jubilant after coming up with this recipe, namely aubergine stuffed with Quorn ragu and topped with parmesan, ricotta and lemon. For lots of reasons, which will be become apparent soon enough, but first you need to picture the scene.
The plates were set down on the table tentatively at first, rather than with the usual flourish, because I was slightly nervous of what was to come and after close scrutiny, a number of questions were fired off. Questions about seasoning, the quality of the cheese and plus an enquiry as to whether there was any apple juice on the list? Cloudy, preferably organic? I countered them all deftly, with the exception of meeting the drinks demand. We had some blackcurrant squash, would that do? This was met with a brief waving of the hands, whilst eyes continued to stare downwards, all squint and intense. After a period of what seemed like hours, the final question came:
“What IS this Daddy?”
“It’s a sort of spag bol,” I replied. Before adding in a tone that said I didn’t really know what the hell I was talking about.
“In a special basket? All soft and … juicy?”
Luckily, I had already mentioned the magic words and because my children love ‘Spag Bol’ so much they leapt straight into it, without having to worry about special baskets; and before long, the plates were clean as a bone. With much cheering and sloshing of cordial along the way. Which brings me back the original notion of a double triumph.
You see, I’ve become very much aware that I have passed on my voracious appetite for meat onto the twins, which does worry me a bit. For as much as I bash the drum for carnivores everywhere, I am aware that eating too much fatty animal protein, especially beef, isn’t the healthiest. As such, I was very happy that our first outing with Quorn passed the litmus test, especially with my two. I was quite happy to discover that I liked it to be honest. Not to mention surprised. The texture of the mince was slightly different yes but the overall flavour was pretty good and as a result, I would definitely use it more often. So that was the first hurdle.
The second was all about the aubergine because previously my twins have always hated eating this beautifully purple and voluptuous fruit. I have tried to tempt them with loads of different incarnations before, but to no avail and with much spitting of mush back out onto plates. However, coupled with the Quorn ragu and the tangy topping, plus a bit of zest on the side. Well, this ‘juicy basket’ went down a storm. So finally I can say with aubergine and the twins - “Job done!”
And better still, no real birds were harmed when making this dish.