Recipes and facts- Aubergine

Aubergines belong to the nightshade family which includes tomatoes, potatoes and peppers. These are all the edible parts of flowering plants from Solanaceae family.

Aubergines are an excellent source of fibre while being low in calories and are a great source of some vitamins and minerals which you need in your diet.

Aubergines are a good source of vitamins B1 and B6. Vitamin B1, also called thiamine, helps your body turn food into energy and can also help keep your nervous system healthy. Vitamin B6, which is also known as pyridoxine, helps the body use and store energy from carbohydrates, and helps keep our red blood cells healthy.

There are lots of ways to cook this unique fruit from roasting and frying to stewing and even BBQ-ing.

Recipes

Pasta Alla Norma

Aubergine and chickpea bites

Burnt aubergine chilli

Smoked aubergine and walnut ragu

Pasta Alla Norma – From Jamie Oliver Website

  • 2 aubergines
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ a bunch of fresh basil , (15g)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon baby capers
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 x 400 g tin of quality plum tomatoes
  • 320 g dried wholewheat spaghetti
  • 50 g pecorino cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil

Chop the aubergines into rough 2cm chunks. Place into a colander in the sink, sprinkle with sea salt to draw out the moisture, then set aside for around 20 minutes.

Peel and finely slice the garlic, then pick the basil leaves and finely slice the stalks.

Rinse the aubergine and pat dry with kitchen paper, then place into a large bowl with the oregano, chilli flakes, a splash of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Toss together well.

Drizzle a splash of olive oil into a large frying pan over a medium heat. Once hot, add the aubergines in a single layer, and fry for 5 to 8 minutes, or until softened and golden, stirring occasionally – you may need to do this in batches.

Add another splash of olive oil, followed by the garlic, capers and basil stalks, then cook for a further 2 minutes, or until golden.

Stir in the vinegar and the tomatoes, breaking them up with the back of a spoon. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes, or until thick and glossy.

Cook the spaghetti in a pan of boiling salted water for 8 minutes or until al dente, which means that it should be soft enough to eat, but still have a bit of bite and firmness to it.

Drain the spaghetti, reserving a cupful of the cooking water, then add a good splash of the reserved water to the aubergine sauce.

Finely grate in half the cheese and tear in most of the reserved basil leaves. Add a lug of extra virgin olive oil, then season to taste.

Add the spaghetti to the sauce and toss well, adding an extra splash of the reserved cooking water to loosen, if needed.

Divide between bowls, grate over the remaining cheese and finish with the remaining basil scattered on top.

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Aubergine and chickpea bites – BBC Good Food website

  • 3 large aubergines, halved, cut side scored
  • spray oil
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tbsp gram flour
  • 1 lemon, ½ zested and juice, ½ cut into wedges to serve (optional)
  • 3 tbsp polenta

For the dip

  • 1 tbsp harissa (we used Belazu rose harissa)
  • 150g coconut dairy-free yogurt (we used Coyo)

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Spray the aubergine halves generously with oil, then put them cut-side up in a large roasting tin with the garlic, coriander and cumin seeds. Season, then roast for 40 mins until the aubergine is completely tender. Set aside to cool a little.

Scoop the aubergine flesh into a bowl and discard the skins. Use a spatula to scrape the spices and garlic into the bowl. Add the chickpeas, gram flour, lemon zest and juice, roughly mash together and check the seasoning. Don’t worry if the mix is a bit soft – it will firm up in the fridge.

Shape the mixture into 20 balls and put them on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, then leave to chill in the fridge for at least 30 mins. Swirl the harissa through the yogurt and set aside. Can make ahead to this point the day before and kept covered in the fridge.

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Tip the polenta onto a plate, roll the balls in it to coat, then return them to the tray and spray each one with a little oil. Roast for 20 mins until crisp, hot and golden. Serve with the harissa yogurt and lemon wedges, if you like.

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Burnt aubergine chilli – From BBC Good Food Website

  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 70g puy lentils or green lentils, rinsed
  • 30g red lentils, rinsed
  • 400g can kidney beans
  • 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 20g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 800ml vegetable stock
  • ½ lime, juiced

To serve – brown rice, tortilla chips, mashed avocado, yogurt or soured cream, grated cheddar, roughly chopped coriander (optional)

If you have a gas hob, put the aubergine directly onto a lit ring to char completely, turning occasionally with kitchen tongs, until burnt all over. Alternatively, use a barbecue or heat the grill to its highest setting and cook, turning occasionally, until completely blackened (the grill won’t give you the same smoky flavour). Set aside to cool on a plate, then peel off the charred skin and remove the stem. Roughly chop the flesh and set aside.

In a large pan, heat the oil, add the onion and carrots with a pinch of salt, and fry over a low-medium heat for 15-20 mins until the carrots have softened.

Add the aubergine, both types of lentils, the kidney beans with the liquid from the can, soy sauce, tomatoes, chocolate, chilli powder, oregano and the spices. Stir to combine, then pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to very low. Cover with a lid and cook for 1½ hrs, checking and stirring every 15-20 mins to prevent it from burning.

Remove the lid and let the mixture simmer over a low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 mins until you get a thick sauce. Stir in the lime juice and taste for seasoning – add more salt if needed. Serve hot over rice with whichever accompaniments you want!

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Smoked aubergine and walnut ragu – Rachel Ama Website

  • Handful of walnuts
  • 1 large aubergine
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 1 celery stick
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 large tbsp tomato puree
  • 200ml vegan friendly red wine
  • 800g tomato passata
  • 400ml vegetable stock (only add if your using dried lentils)
  • 1/4 cup dried lentils
  • 1tbsp brown miso paste or soy sauce
  • Salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Serve with pasta, fresh herb of choice, extra virgin olive oil

To smoke the aubergine, prick the aubergines a couple of times with a knife or fork. Blacken the aubergines over a barbeque, or gas hob, turning regularly until completely charred. Place in a bowl and cover with lid, let the aubergine cool down and steam to help the skins fall over.

When cooler enough to handle, slit the aubergines lengthways and scoop out the flesh. Finely chop the flesh into a paste.

For the walnuts, soak over night. Drain then pop in a pan, cover with water and bring to a boil then simmer. Cook for 30 mins to 2 hours depending on how much time you have or how soft you want the walnuts. Then remove from pan, drain, and pulse the walnuts in a blender into small crumbs.

For the regu, cook down the onions, celery, and carrots in a generous spoon of olive oil until onions are brown, then add garlic, bay leaves, cover with red wine, bring pan to a boil and cook until wine reduces by half the volume. Then add tomato paste, smoked aubergines, blended walnuts followed by tomato passata. Season generously with salt and some cracked black pepper. Add in dried lentils and vegetables stock cube and water (only add water if you are using dried lentils!).

Place a lid on top and cook down until lentils are soft, anywhere from 20 minutes to 40 minutes.

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