Archive for ‘Aubergines’

September 12, 2012

So September has come and the days are suddenly a little cooler. Summer is gone – what we had of it. But between the rains of June and July and the collective moment of forgetting everyone took through the Olympics and Paralympics, there were some occasional sunny, warm days. Summer did happen. We have the evidence here in the shape of some pictures of a back garden barbecue.

But what do you cook for a vegetarian at a barbecue? Nothing? C’mon! Buy some frozen veggie burgers and heat them through? Ugh. Make them a salad? What, to soak up the beer and wine? Don’t invite them? Jeez.

It’s a shame that more people don’t realise how much can cooked on a barbecue. Grilling vegetables, fruit and even cheese is simple – much easier than cooking meat, from what I gather from watching others – and is pretty much a surefire way of welcoming non carnivores to the party.

My theory is that a barbecue involves two things: smoke and good quality ingredients – ones that you’d enjoy eating if they were cooked in another way. Simple.

For us at ETP Towers, that means grilling skewers of mixed vegetables over charcoal. Try florets of cauliflower, peppers, cherry tomatoes, artichoke and beetroot. Mix the veg with cubes of halloumi and fruit – my favourite, mango, or even a strawberry. We also grill flat mushrooms, strips of aubergine and courgette and, of course, corn on the cob, par-boiled for a few minutes first.

For a marinade we often use a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and a herb – thyme maybe, or rosemary – and chilli maybe, too.

Ella’s fab veggie burgers, here, would also go down a treat.

There are more spectacular things to barbecue – aubergine rolls with all kinds of fillings, chilli polenta slices, for example – but some of the above is so easy, so quick, that the question of what to feed a vegetarian at a barbecue should never need be asked again.

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April 10, 2012

Last night’s dinner: Denis Cotter’s roast garlic and fennel mash with lemon-braised chickpeas and aubergine

Wow. Denis Cotter claims this is an autumnal dish. We had it on a dark April day when a bowl of filling, warming loveliness was called for. The garlic and fennel mash was sublime and a tangy topping of chickpeas was the perfect complement. We made a little too much and still scraped our bowls clean. The recipe is in Cotter’s book For the Love of Food, here. I know we plug this book intermittently, but it’s with good reason. So, no recipe here – go buy!

December 15, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Yotam Ottolenghi’s roasted aubergine with fried onion and chopped lemon

About half way through the afternoon Ella and I discussed ideas for dinner and realised we didn’t havethe faintest notion what to cook. Then I remembered this Ottolenghi recipe from the weekend’s paper. It doesn’t look ‘all that’ in the accompanying photo, but a look at the ingredients told me it would be warming and smoky, but also light and fresh with a real citrus kick. It proved, indeed, to be all of those things. With bells on.

I do have to get round to discussing Ottolenghi in more depth at some point, as we ate at his restaurant this autumn and, while it was enjoyable, we left somewhat underwhelmed. We’ve made (and loved – and I mean really loved) so much of his food at home that our expectations were high. But that’s for another time.

For now, and as an antidote to all the stodgy British midwinter we’re bound to get stuck into over the coming weeks, here‘s the recipe. We served it with a big old leafy salad, dressed heartily.

November 2, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Roast aubergine with tomato and pine nuts, Puy lentils and a yoghurt dressing

We’ve been mentioning chef Denis Cotter rather a lot recently, partly because we’re working our way through some of his recipes in his latest book. In it, at one point, he eulogises the aubergine and sets a challenge: take an aubergine or two, find some other ingredients lying around the fridge and store cupboard, and make a meal of them. That’s right, like an aubergine-based Ready Steady Cook from TV.

This was our first attempt. We had two aubergines, some cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, some herbs, lentils, a little yoghurt, a few other ingredients too… so, what to do? To make a hearty supper we decided to base the meal around Puy lentils, with a contrasting topping.

First get the lentils going, enough for each person in some vegetable stock. Simmer until tender but still slightly nutty (around 30 minutes?), drain and then add 2tbsp of red wine vinegar, stir through and set aside.

While the lentils are cooking, top and tail the aubergine (you’ll need one per person) and slice it from top to bottom to get four lengths of equal thickness. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and roast for around 20 minutes until golden and softened. Alternatively, brush them with olive oil and griddle them for a nice charred effect.

Next, half a couple of handfulls of cherry tomatoes. Half them again lengthways to make little segments. Then scrape out the seeds and excess juice. Place in a bowl and add a pinch of salt and pepper and a chopped red chilli (to your taste). Stir in and set aside.

Then toast a couple of tablespoons of pine nuts in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes until slightly browned – take care not to burn them. Finally, in a small bowl, take 150ml of Greek yoghurt and add a little olive oil, the juice of a lemon, a clove of crushed garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir. If it isn’t the consistency of double cream, add a little milk or a little extra olive oil, or both.

When the aubergine is cooked and cooled slightly they can be stuffed. Add the pine nuts to the tomatoes and mix through. Now take a dessert spoonful of the mixture and place it on one end of an aubergine slice and roll up. Do the same for the rest. Place the lentil rolls into a medium oven to warm through.

Chop some fresh parsley, or a little coriander or mint, and stir it into the lentils and place back on a low heat.

When the lentils and aubergine are warmed, plate up: lentils on the bottom, aubergine rolls on top and a drizzle of yoghurt sauce all over. Smashing, smoky, tangy and wholesome, warming fresh and good. With a tiny chilli kick.

April 30, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Italian grilled vegetable salad

Thursday 28 April

A very simple thing this, made mainly because we had some globe artichokes, courgettes and an aubergine delivered to us in our weekly box of veg.

I’m lying ever so slightly, however, by calling it a grilled vegetable salad because in this instance we roasted the veg. Char-grilling would be better, but a barbecue isn’t possible here at ETP Towers at the moment. Whichever way you choose to cook – and sweeten up – the courgettes, aubergine and some peppers, the idea is to combine them with artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella like a big platter of vegetarian antipasti. Rocket and some torn basil leaves makes it a salad – perfect for a lemon and olive oil dressing. You could also add olives and maybe even some capers.

April 26, 2011

All about aubergines

Did you know that the aubergine is a fruit? Or that it contains very small quantities of nictotine? There’s a whole heap of history about aubergines, how to cook them, and links to recipes, here.

March 24, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Puy lentils with aubergine and yoghurt

Tuesday 22 March

We often make a dish of lentils that we crumble feta cheese over. I think we invented the recipe ourselves and it’s a warming, hearty dish for an autumn or winter evening meal. This is a variation. Puy lentils love some onion and pepper running through them – ooh, and a carrot too. Here we cooked the lentils with a finely chopped onion and chopped carrot, then added some roasted pepper and tomato. For the aubergine – essentially a rough baba ghanoush or Lebanese/Egyptian moutabel – we roasted the aubergine, scooped out the soft flesh, added olive oil, crushed garlic and seasoning, and mashed. To serve, we added a splash of red wine vinegar to the lentils, some chopped parsley and dill, topped with the aubergine and a dollop of Greek yoghurt. Lovely.