Due to the restraints of a harsh student budget, many (like me) have been forced to largely strike meat off their shopping lists. Thankfully, the terrible decision between a £2 pack of beef mince or change for that load of washing can be made all the more easy with this recipe for four people that'll cost you just a fiver (provided the basics like salt and oil).

This is an interesting equivalent to the classic beef lasagna that's based on the Italian parmigiana, with the added twist of crispy gnocchi to form the crown to battered aubergine layered with gooey cheese and tomato. It can be eaten on its own straight from the dish or served with salad, depending on how classy you want to feel. 

Aubergine, Mozzarella, and Gnocchi Parmigiana

  • Prep Time:1 hr
  • Cook Time:20 mins
  • Total Time:1 hr 20 mins
  • Servings:3
  • Medium


  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tins tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon concentrated tomato purée
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 aubergine
  • 50g plain flour
  • 175g cheddar grated
  • 150g mozzarella sliced
  • 250g ready-to-cook gnocchi
Matt Volpe
  • Step 1

    To make the sauce, slice your garlic finely and fry it up in 1 tablespoon of oil until it reaches a golden brown colour. Add straight to the pan your two tins of tomato, tomato purée, basil, and salt, and pepper. Finally, half fill one of the tomato tins with water and add this to the mix, then allow to simmer for around 20-30 mins, or until suitably reduced.

    soup, vegetable, meat
    Matt Volpe
  • Step 2

    Next, cut your aubergine into slices of about 0.5 to 1 cm thick. Be careful how much you cut because you might not need the whole thing, so try laying out the slices as you go in your chosen dish.

    tea, coffee, cake, chocolate
    Matt Volpe
  • Step 3

    Heat a medium frying pan with the remaining oil up to a medium-high temperature on the hob, while dipping your aubergine first in the flour then egg, ensuring an even covering of both.

    Matt Volpe
  • Step 4

    Gently lay your battered aubergine slices in the hot oil, taking care not to burn your fingers. Fry them for about 4 minutes each side until you get a nice golden brown colour.

    Matt Volpe
  • Step 5

    Now we have to start layering up this beastie. Start with a few tablespoons of tomato to cover the base, then follow with a layer of aubergine, and finally the cheeses.

    eggplant, zucchini, sauce
    Matt Volpe
  • Step 6

    Once filled your dish, pack in any gaps with more cheese and tomato, then top with your gnocchi. A good drizzle of oil will help to crisp up the top while it's cooking.

    vegetable, legume, oil, pea
    Matt Volpe
  • Step 7

    Finally, bake at around 200ºC/395ºF/gas mark 6 for about 15 minutess or until the gnocchi is crispy.

    vegetable, pearl onion, potato, meat, sweet
    Matt Volpe