Full Palates

By Simone Conti

Aubergine Parmigiana – Serves 4

Suggested Wine – Primitivo (Italy)

This dish is delicious and easy to prepare.  It’s a good alternative to lasagne for vegetarians and a good way to feed the kids some extra vegetables!

1.5 kg aubergine
500g of mozzarella cheese
1 small onion
1.4 litre chopped tomatoes (3tins)
150 g Parmesan cheese
Pepper and salt to taste
35 g of coarse salt
1 litre of frying oil
50ml of olive oil 


1. Wash the aubergines, then remove stem and base with a sharp knife.  Cut into 0.5cm thick slices by cutting along the length of the aubergines to create longer slices. 

2. Place sliced aubergines in colander and sprinkle with coarse salt. Apply salt evenly on the slices. Leave aside in colander for 1 hour. Put colander in sink or inside a large mixing bowl to allow the liquid they produce, to flow out of the colander. After a few minutes you’ll notice they secrete a brown water and we’re aiming to get rid of this.  It’s the aubergine vegetation water and has a very bitter taste.  Once removed, the aubergine will taste completely different.

3. After 1 hour rinse the aubergines and dry with kitchen roll. Place 2in of frying oil into medium frying pan, over a medium heat.  Once the oil begins to boil add the aubergines.  Don’t put too many slices in at once to allow them to fry evenly.  Once golden in colour, remove from the pan and place back into colander.  Keep the colander in the sink or inside a mixing bowl. Once all aubergine slices are fried, leave inside the colander for another hour to remove excess frying oil. 

4. The aubergines are now ready for the next stage. Pour olive oil into a medium casserole over a moderate heat. Add finely chopped onion and cook until it becomes golden brown. Add chopped tomatoes and cook for 45 mins, add a little water from time to time, to avoid the sauce becoming too thick. Add herbs and seasoning to taste. I usually add basil leaves and oregano.

5. Once tomato sauce is ready place some of it into a large baking dish, sufficient to cover the base of the dish. Add 1st layer of aubergines onto the tomato sauce, then another layer of the sauce.  Sprinkle with some mozzarella/cheddar cheese to cover the aubergine slices. Do the same with Parmesan cheese. Repeat the process and create as many layers as possible using the same procedure until you run out of ingredients. Once ready, bake the Parmigiana at 200oC / mark 8 for 40 mins. Before serving, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Enjoy your delicious Aubergine Parmigiana!

Pan-Fried Salmon and Chorizo with tomato and basil – Serves 4

Suggested Wine – Albarino (Spain)

When I lived in Spain I learnt how to use and enjoy chorizo. I’d thought chorizo was only good for a charcuterie board or sandwich, but as I worked with skilled Spanish chefs, I understood it can be used in many combinations. This is the one of my favourite, combining the saltiness of chorizo with the delicate sweetness of salmon. Adding fresh tomato and basil brings a freshness to the dish. It’s really important to use the same frying pan throughout the recipe and don’t wash it! 

4 Salmon fillets (skin on)
300g of Spanish chorizo cut in to 12 slices
Juice of 1 lemon
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
10 basil leaves
50ml Olive oil 


1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in frying pan over a moderate heat, add chorizo slices and sauté on both sides until coloured. Remove and place on warm plate.  

2. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan (remember not to wash the pan), once the oil is hot, add the salmon fillets skin side down. Cook over a moderate heat for 3 mins and then turn and cook for 3 more mins. With this timing the salmon will be pink/rare but if you don’t like it rare, just add 2 mins for each side. Remove the salmon and take the pan off the heat. Add remaining olive oil and lemon juice and stir to loosen the crunchy bits. 

3. To serve, place one salmon fillet in centre of the plate, place 3 chorizo slices on top of each salmon fillet. Then place halved tomatoes and basil leaves on top, drizzle each fillet with prepared pan juice. NB: there’s no salt added in the recipe because chorizo is very salty. So before you add any salt, be sure to taste it first.  Enjoy!

English Raspberries with Mascarpone cream and Almond Croquante – Serves 4

Suggested Wine – Prosecco (Italy)

This summer recipe is easy and so delicious that once you have tried it, you will make it over and over again. This is the season for sweet and tangy raspberries. While the mascarpone cream will bring a sweet creaminess, the almond croquante adds texture and flavour. Combined together you have the perfect summer pudding. I love to serve this dessert on a large serving dish in the middle of the table to share (or fight over)!

3 punnets fresh raspberries
For the Mascarpone cream
200g mascarpone cheese
Seeds from 1/2 vanilla pod
50g icing sugar, sifted
150ml of double cream
Almond croquante
200g whole blanched (skinned) almonds
200g caster sugar 


1.  To prepare the almond croquante, preheat oven to 180oc / mark 4. Spread the almonds over a small baking tray and roast for 5 mins, until a light golden colour. Leave to one side.

2.  Place sugar in saucepan and add 1 tablespoon of water. Cook, without stirring, on a medium heat until the sugar melts and turns a light golden colour. Add the almonds and cook for another minute. Pour over an oiledw baking sheet and leave to cool and set.  

3. Roughly break up the croquante and put into a food bag. Bash with a rolling pin to break into pieces of whatever size and shape you like.

4. Place mascarpone cream into a bowl and beat with vanilla seeds and icing sugar. In a separate bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Fold whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture. 

5. To serve, spoon the mascarpone cream on to a serving dish. Scatter the raspberries over and sprinkle the almond croquante on top. Enjoy!

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