Tag Archives: aubergine

Aubergine Pasta

When I was younger, I was never really a fan of aubergines. In my student days, I started to experiment with them, and while I was always aware that aubergines mop up oil like a sponge, I still always ended up with something greasy and, well, just not that appealing. I probably made the novice error of adding more and more oil as the aubergine was cooking. Yes, this meant that I endured many, many meals involving badly-cooked aubergine with too much oil served pasta, with salt, pepper and spices seeking to mask the horror that I had cooked up.

These days, however, me and the aubergine have made up and get along just fine. I love them smoked and made into salads or baked and turned into baba ganoush (even if they’ve been known to explode all over the inside of my oven), but most recently I’ve been making lots and lots of this simple aubergine and tomato sauce. Very easy, very delicious and fantastic with pasta.

aubergine_sauce1

This recipe really is sheer simplicity. Just chop the aubergine into small cubes, then put into a pan with some olive oil and salt. At first, all the oil is soaked up, and you think that nothing will happen when you cook it. But be patient, and the  aubergine transforms into something browned, soft and delicious. The flavour is rounded out with some tomatoes and herbs, and that’s about it. This is great on pasta, cannelloni, polenta, gnocchi…with chillier days, that’s the sort of stuff we like!

aubergine_sauce2

To make aubergine sauce (enough to serve 4):

• 2 medium aubergines
• 50ml olive oil
• salt, to taste
• 4 tablespoons tomato paste
• 2 tins chopped tomatoes
• sugar, to taste
• pinch of chili powder
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano

1. Cut the aubergines into 1 cm (1/2 inch) chunks. Put into a large saucepan with the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Cook on a medium heat until the aubergine is soft and it is starting to brown, around 15 minutes (At first, the aubergine will soak up all the oil, but keep heating it and it will release the oil and cook down).

2. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir well and adjust the seasoning if needed. Leave to simmer on a low heat until the sauce has reduced down. Just before serving, adjust with a little water and/or olive oil if needed (this sauce can be made ahead and reheated at the last minute).

Worth making? I reckon so – I’ve probably made this four times in the last three weeks!

Advertisements

15 Comments

Filed under Recipe, Savoury

Tumbet

There has been a distinct Spanish flavour to a lot of my posts recently…and today, we’re keeping that going.

I’ve been making a dish called tumbet rather a lot recently. It’s traditionally from Mallorca, and it’s really just about the simplest thing you can make. Chances are, you’ve got just about everything in the kitchen right now. Look at this lot – nothing too fancy here, eh?

But what is this dish? Well, it’s clearly a lot of potato, peppers and aubergine. It’s all sliced up, fried in a little olive oil, then topped off with a thick tomato sauce that’s rammed with lots of garlic. There seem to be quite a lot of variations out there (which is only to b expected with such a traditional dish), but I’ve made a tweak and added a few slices of Spanish Manchego cheese before pouring over the tomato sauce to add a bit more substance so that this makes a tasty and filling main dish.

Now, a lot of blogs feature recipes that are “simple” or “easy” or “a breeze”. I’m not going to lie – this is one that’s easy, but its not quick. I think this tastes best when you can leave the vegetables to fry gently on a very low heat, rather than cremating them over a hot flame. If you’re able to multi-task and do something else at the same time (which coudl involve, perhaps, glasses of wine in the sunshine) then it is indeed simply. It’s just that some thing cannot be rushed.

This a really nice dish that works either as a cold tapas-style nibble with drinks (serve it up with bowls of olives, almonds and patatas bravas with garlic mayo with a few glasses of chilled white wine), or have it as a main dish with a large green salad. Either way – delicious, and you get the feeling of just a little summer sunshine as you eat it.

To make tumbet (as a side dish for four, main for two):

For the sauce:

• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
• pepper, to taste

• salt, to taste
• 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)

Heat the oil over a low heat. Add the garlic and fry very gently for about a minute (it shouldn’t brown). Add the salt, pepper, oregano and chopped tomatoes. Cover the sauce, and leave to simmer for 30 minutes. If the sauce is too dry, just add a little more water.

For the layers:

• 300g potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
• 1 aubergine, sliced
• 2 peppers (I used one red, one yellow), cut into sticks
• 75g Manchego cheese, sliced
• olive oil, for frying

Fry the potatoes in a little olive oil until they are starting to turn golden brown. Put in the bottom of an ovenproof dish.

Brush the aubergine slides with a little olive oil, and fry gently until soft and browned on both sides. Place on top of the potatoes.

Finally, fry the peppers until soft. Put on top of the aubergine, then arrange the slices of cheese on top.

Pour over the sauce and spread evenly on top of the vegetables.

Worth making? This is a tasty dish with lots of flavours and textures, and in my view, makes a nice change from lasagna, moussaka or the dreaded mushroom risotto(*) if you have to serve something to a veggie guest.

(*) Acutally, I love mushrooms risotto – it’s just that it tends to be the only thing on the menu is so many place in London these days!

4 Comments

Filed under Recipe, Savoury

Burnt Aubergine Salad

Oh aubergine! For so many years I sort of liked you, but could not find it in my heart to love you. You were fickle and so often sucked up too much oil, then sat there sadly in your intense oiliness. Yes, I was even a a little suspicious of those people who declared that they did love aubergines.

OK, perhaps a little dramatic, but it has taken me a while to get comfortable with cooking aubergines and to produce something delicious. I have had quite a few disasters over the years, coming to a head with what one dinner guest described as aubergine oil surprise (the surprise being just how much oil I had been able to use, but I was 21, a student and thought I was demonstrating the height of sophistication). What has probably come over to any regular readers by now is that I am always on the lookout for recipes that are tasty and dependable, and frankly, those that don’t involve too much effort if they are not for a special occasion.

Well, aubergine my love, I think I have found the recipe for you. This is one I saw at an Ottolenghi cookery demonstration recently, but in my normal way, I just took it as a rough guide and started making tweaks and improvising based on what I had in the cupboard. It is somewhere between a salad and a rich dip. The aubergines are burned over a gas flame, so they take on a charred, smokey quality. In doing this, I went for broke. Full flame, then stand back and mutter burn, baby, burn as the smoke rises and sparks fly off from charred aubergine skin. The fire alarm went off a couple of times, before I realised it would be smart to open all the windows. Also, don’t leave these things unattended in case you set fire to your kitchen. Can you imagine the shame? Well officer, I was charring aubergines on the hob in the quest for the perfect way to use them, and wouldn’t you believe it, they’re quite flammable…. Yes, a lot of drama, and all in the quest for flavour!

With the aubergines well and truly cremated, the magic comes with the rest of the ingredients – pomegranate molasses (thick, sweet, tart reduced pomegranate juice) adds kick, and a lot of tahini and a good glug of water combine the make a thick, creamy “sauce”. I know, it seems like a lot of water, but tahini plus water does the strangest thing, and actually thickens up. An extra spoon of tahini will also save a runny batch of hummus.

So how much do I love this? I think I will start to make this with all my aubergines from now on. I love it that much. Fellow diners agreed that this was fabulous. It is, by turns, rich, creamy, smoky, tangy, nutty and utterly delicious.

To serve 4:

• 2 large aubergines
• 140g tahini paste
• 120ml water
• 1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 30g chopped parsley
• 1/4 cucumber
• 180g cherry tomatoes
• Olive oil to finish
• Salt and black pepper

To cook the aubergines: pierce the aubergine a few times. Turn on a gas cooker, place the aubergine on top, and allow to char. You will need to turn it a few times to ensure it is burnt all over, and watch them in case they start a fire! It is done when the flesh is tender (10-15 minutes). Allow to cool.

To prepare the salad: remove the burnt skin from the aubergines. If there is a lot of liquid, place in a sieve and allow to drain for 30 minutes.

Chop the flesh roughly (we still want some texture), and place in a large bowl with the tahini, water, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic, parsley and some salt and pepper. Mix well, and add salt and pepper to taste. If it seems a little too liquid, add another spoonful of tahini and mix again.

Remove the seeds from the cucumber. Slice the cucumber finely and add to the salad. Halve the tomatoes, and add to the salad. Stir gently to distribute them in the mixture.

Serve in a wide bowl. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and scatter a few halved cherry tomatoes and some chopped parsley.

Worth making? This salad was sensational. I tried it at the cookery demonstration and was wowed by it (I stood there making mmmmmm noises, much like everyone else), and I was thrilled that I could reproduce this at home. It is a much more robust dish than typical aubergine dip, and makes a lovely addition to a summer lunch. The only tricky bit is charring the aubergines, which you could easily do ahead of time.

2 Comments

Filed under Recipe, Savoury

Baba Ghanoush (Roasted Aubergine Dip)

When friends come over for a drink, I like to serve a something to nibble on. It is a bit of a Continental habit from years spent abroad – this can be as simple as cheese or nuts, but if I’m feeling creative, this can range all the way up to savoury pastries or a selection of dips.

I had two large aubergines from the local Turkish shop looking somewhat forlorn in the kitchen and some friends on the way over, so baba ghanoush was the obvious answer! This is a smoked aubergine dip from the Middle East, which is both luxurious and easy to make.

HOW TO MAKE IT

• 2 aubergines
• 3 tablespoons tahini
• 1 tablespoon mild vinegar or lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon yoghurt
• salt, to taste
• olive oil, to drizzle
• pomegranate seeds (optional)

Pierce the skin of the aubergines all over with a sharp knife. Burn the outsides of each aubergine over a flame or under a very hot grill. We want the “burnt” flavour to get into the flesh, so don’t be scared of getting them good and black.

Once the outside is charred, put the aubergines in a hot oven for 25 minutes at 200 degrees. Once cooked, place in a plastic bag or a sealed container, and allow to cool to room temperature.

Next, cut the aubergines open, scoop the flesh into a bowl (leaving behind the skin!) and add the tahini, vinegar/lemon (according to preference), yoghurt and salt and mix well. Leave overnight in the fridge to thicken and allow the flavours to develop.

Serve at room temperature with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. Accompany with toasted bread.

WOULD I MAKE IT AGAIN?

Yes. This is a breeze to make, provided you can be organised. The one niggle is that it really is best done the day before, but this is something I would happily make on a Friday and eat over the weekend. I’ve also done it same day, and it still tastes really good.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized