Food & drink

James St recipes: Niall McKenna's Perfect Panna Cotta and Aubergine Parmagianna

Aubergine Parmagianna
Niall McKenna

THIS week's recipes are two from my holiday homeland. Two years in a row I haven't been able to make it to my favourite holiday destination, Italy.

Like many people, with restrictions still in place we were able to get away to Spain but every year we go to Italy, whether that be for a city break or a beach holiday.

I always have a great holiday and pick up plenty of ideas for new dishes from the local cuisine.

The two recipes that I want to share with you today will bring Italy home to you - an Aubergine Parmagianna and a perfect Panna Cotta.

::For more information, or to book an experience at the Waterman Cookery School, visit

::Aubergine Parmagianna

(Serves 4-6)

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 small bunch of basil, destalked and finely chopped

800g of cherry tomatoes (can use tinned)

1 tablespoon of sundried tomato

1 tablespoon of clear honey

1 pinch of thyme

4 aubergines

2 balls of mozzarella, sliced

25g of breadcrumbs

30g of parmesan, finely grated


Heat oil in a pan and, adding in the garlic and basil, cooking for 1 minute. You don't want anything to colour.

Add in the tomatoes, honey and thyme and season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Score the flesh of each aubergine, season with salt and pepper and push in a slice of the mozzarella and a basil leaf into the gaps.

Place the aubergines in a large baking dish or roasting tray, pour over the tomato sauce and drizzle over a little olive oil. Cover with tin foil and bake in the oven for 50 minutes until soft.

Remove the foil after 50 minutes and in a clean bowl mix the thyme, breadcrumbs and parmesan and scatter over the dish and pop back into the oven until the crumbs are golden and crisp.

Remove from the oven and scatter with the remaining basil leaves

::Perfect Panna Cotta

(Serves 6)

Drizzle of rapeseed oil for the moulds

400ml of cream

100ml of milk

50g of sugar

1 vanilla pod, split

2 gelatine leaves


Start by oiling your moulds lightly using a pastry brush.

Place half of the cream in a saucepan over a medium heat adding in the milk, sugar, and vanilla pod. Bring to the boil and then reduce, remove when the mixture is bubbling.

Place the gelatine in cold water to soften, once soft remove from the water and squeeze as much water out of it as you can. Add to the hot milk mix and stir until it is completely dissolved.

Add in the remaining cream and stir through.

Sieve the mix through a fine sieve which will take away any gelatine not completely dissolved and the vanilla pod. You can keep the vanilla pod for later use again.

Pour the mix into the mould and place into the fridge and leave to set for 4 hours.

Once set remove from the fridge 15 minutes before you want to eat.

To serve turn the mould upside down and place onto plate, serve and eat immediately.

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