I never thought I could do so much with this vegetable which I once deemed too gooey for my liking. As a kid, I only had aubergines cooked one way. With minced pork and chilli, and usually braised till it’s all a little too unidentifiably mushy. Ever since independence took over and I moved to Australia moons ago, I discovered how versatile this spongey little thing can be.
Aubergines, eggplant, brinjal…call it what you want. It’s technically a fruit (much like the tomato) but I insist on calling it as a vegetable. You can grill it (mmm, grilled aubergines are delish – you can try it with this salad recipe), you can cook it in a curry, bake it with tomato sauce and cheese (anyone say melanzane parmagiana?) – so many different ways to say yum.
This particular recipe comes from my beloved Ottolenghi cookbook. Made it for dinner a few times and is lovely as a side with roast chicken or fish. The sweet baked, tender aubergine in a lightly garlicky saffron yogurt. Very Mediterranean, very fresh and delicious. Don’t diss it before you try it, you’d be surprised at how good this combination is. And don’t forget the pomegranate seeds, they give that added burst of sweetness to the dish. Love!
From Ottolenghi, The Cookbook:
3 medium aubergines, cut into slices or thick wedges
olive oil for brushing
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts (I ran out, so I replaced with chopped almonds)
a handful of pomegranate seeds
20 basil leaves
course sea salt and black pepper
For saffron yogurt:
a small pinch of saffron strands
3 tbsp hot water
180g Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
2.5 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1.For the sauce, infuse saffron in the hot water in a small bowl for 5 mins. Add yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and some salt. Whisk well to get smooth golden sauce. Taste and adjust the salt, if necessary, then chill. Sauce will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days.
2. Preheat oven to 220C/Gas Mark 7. Place aubergine wedges on a roasting tray, brush with plenty of olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-35 mins, until a light brown colour. Let them cool to room temperature before serving.
3. To serve, arrange aubergine on a large plate. Drizzle with saffron yogurt, sprinkle nuts and pomegranate seeds and lay the basil on top.