This dish is much faster if you use an air fryer to cook the eggplant. Depending on the air fryer model, diced eggplant (tossed in olive oil and salt first) should take about 13 minutes at 180C.
- olive oil
- 3 medium or 2 very large eggplants diced into 2cm cubes if cooking in an air fryer – or sliced into ‘steaks’ of 2cm thickness if cooking in the oven
- 500g minced lamb or beef
- 2 Roma tomatoes (optional)
- chopped up spinach leaves (optional)
- 200ml tomato passata
- maybe 2 tbs cornflour (thickener for the Bolognese – do not omit)
- 80g plain flour (for the white sauce)
- 80g butter (for the white sauce)
- 600ml warmed milk (for the white sauce)
- grated Parmesan (optional, for the white sauce)
- fresh parsley
- fresh basil
- Heat the oven to 180C.
- Use the air fryer to cook the diced eggplant for about 15 minutes. Otherwise heat the oven to 180C. Brush or toss the sliced eggplant in olive oil mixed with salt. Lay out the slices on baking paper on a tray and roast for 35 to 45 minutes. Note: you’ll need a fair bit of surface area on those trays.
- To make the Bolognese, fry the onion and garlic, then add the mince, cinnamon and nutmeg and cook until brown. Add the tomatoes, spinach and passata. Simmer to reduce, then add cornflour to thicken (stir on low heat while simmering). Add parsley and basil at the end and season with salt and pepper. Allow the sauce to stand while you make the next thing.
- To make the white sauce, heat the butter in the pan and then stir in the plain flour. Microwave the milk to make sure it’s warm. Add the warmed milk in small amounts while stirring vigorously. Mix in the grated Parmesan. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Layer the following in a large baking dish: eggplant, Bolognese sauce, white sauce. Bake for 15 or so minutes until all cheese has well and truly melted.