A beautiful dish that is filling, yet light on the digestive system. This is a dish designed to soothe and nourish. Roasting the vegetables before assembling the gratin, reduces the water content and increases the flavour intensity. Beefsteak tomatoes work best here but you can use other variety of vine-ripened tomatoes. We would not recommend using canned tomatoes in this recipe. The non-dairy cashew and basil cream, together with the caramelised onions and the very satisfying thyme infused crumble will make eating summer vegetables a joy.
This is a full meal on its own or you could serve it with a seasonal leaf salad of your choice or steamed spinach.
Set the oven to 180°c / gas mark 4.
Place the sliced aubergines in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Leave for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, place the courgette slices on a baking tray and season. Brush with two tbsps of oil and roast until tender (around 20 minutes). Remove and set aside.
Pat dry the aubergine slices using a kitchen towel. Place on baking tray and season. Brush with one tablespoon of oil and roast for 30 minutes until tender. Remove and set aside.
Whilst the aubergine is roasting, Sauté the red onion in the remaining oil until it starts to brown, on a low heat. Add the garlic and sauté for two minutes then turn off the heat.
Prepare the breadcrumbs: Place the bread cubes on a baking tray and roast in the oven at 180°c for 15-20 minutes until golden and crunchy. Leave to cool for five minutes. Place the bread in a food processor with the thyme leaves and seasoning and pulse until ground. Check the seasoning and then set aside.
Drain and thoroughly rinse the cashew nuts.
In a blender, add the basil, cashew nuts, nutritional yeast, water, lemon and salt. Blend until smooth and creamy. Season with black pepper
to taste. Adjust the seasoning as you wish.
Use a medium size glass or similar oven proof dish. You will need 1 tsp olive oil for greasing the dish. Set the oven higher to 180°c (fan) or gas mark 6
Lightly grease the edges of the dish with some olive oil.
Place a layer of aubergine on the base of the dish. Follow this with a layer of the onion and garlic, then one layer of tomatoes and then one layer of courgette. Pour on just enough of the basil cream sauce to cover the layers.
Repeat the layers in the same order and pour more sauce generously on the top.
Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly on top of the dish. Add a grind or two of black pepper.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Enjoy!