Hungry children.

It seems rather shameful to be writing these Covid cookbook recipes each week when there are clearly millions of people very much struggling to get a meal on the table – especially for their children during this half-term.

I too remember that I and my brothers had free school meals – and there was no stigma about it as far as I can recall.  Money was certainly tight in a single income household with four fast-growing and strapping boys.  Every piece of fruit was counted out; evening meals for the week were scrupulously planned; it was a balancing act to create satisfying and nourishing food on a budget.  Meat-and-two-veg lunches plus a good stodgy school pudding   kept us going.  Thank goodness Marcus Rashford and other public and political figures are making a stand: if we can afford £7m re-branding the Highways Agency and, doubtless, more on MPs’ recent pay rises, we as a society can certainly afford to be a bit more generous and caring for those who need it.

Here’s a dish that doesn’t cost much but tastes super:

1 medium aubergine

2 tablespoons oil

Salt and pepper

4 medium tomatoes, chopped small.

Handful of mint leaves, chopped

125g sausage meat.

Cut the aubergine in to an even number of slices – about 18 or 20.

Line an oven tray with foil, drizzle over the oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place the aubergine slices on the tray in the oil and seasoning and then turn over.

Cook the slices for 10 minutes in the oven at Gas 4, remove and turn the slices over and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the tomato pieces and chopped mint with black pepper.

Make 9 or 10 marbles of sausage meat and press out in to circles.

Using the largest slices of aubergine: top the slice with a round of sausage meat and top with a spoonful of the tomato mix; top with one of the smaller aubergine slices and more tomato mix.

Lay the aubergine sandwiches on the tray.

Cook in the oven Gas 4 for 20 minutes and then Gas 2 for a further 20 minutes.

Served with half a courgette sautéed with garlic and some spinach leaves, this made a very good lunch for two.

Once the aubergine slices have been pre-cooked, the sandwiches can be constructed and kept on the tray in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.

I learned this classic Umbrian antipasto recipe on a cooking course near Perugia with my Australian friend, Rosemary.    The usual authentic version uses cheese instead of the meat and a little extra over the tomato topping.  My version works for those, like me, who are cheese-intolerant.  I’ve made the dish many times but this is the first year that the aubergine, tomatoes and mint all came from the garden.

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