This was one of my lunches this week and it worked beautifully, I will definitely be making it, and versions of it, again and again…
This is basically a cooked aubergine, filled with tahini sauce and chermoula, topped with more tahini sauce (there can never be too much tahini sauce!) and sprinkled with dried barberries and roasted flaked almonds, on a bed of crisp lettuce. Heaven on a plate!
This was a complete meal for me, and I think it could be a great offering to any vegetarian guest, or if you use smaller aubergines (see below) it could be a lovely starter?
So, onto the method..
The aubergine: this was a large aubergine, very large, if you are using a small or medium aubergine, amend times accordingly.
Heat your grill/broiler to high
Prick the skin, place the aubergine on a kitchen towel and microwave on high for 4 minutes; it will already feel soft to the touch. The aim with having a stint in the microwave is to ensure that the flesh is cooked all the way through
Next, carefully place the aubergine on some foil on a baking tray and place under the grill, as close as possible, without touching
The aim is to crisp the skin, and take it to the point where it’s not actually burnt
Keep an eye on the aubergine and keep turning it so that all of the aubergine is under the grill at some point; it may take 10-15 minutes to do
When you feel it’s done, you may see liquid oozing from the pricked skin, remove the aubergine and gently place it on whatever plate you will serve it on
Make a long slit along the top and fill as you wish.
NOTE: if you prefer, you could skip the microwave step and only cook the aubergine under the grill/broiler, it will obviously need longer under the grill, and you’ll need to keep an eye that it doesn’t burn, but you will get the same outcome eventually, possibly even better.
OR, you could be really authentic, and go for a really smoky flavour, and cook the aubergine over the open flame of a gas burner. To do this you have to keep turning the aubergine and try to hold it without squashing it too much. And it WILL make a real mess of your hob/stove – I tried it once..never again!
The tahini sauce: I make this so often that I just chuck it into the blender, but I did attempt to measure what I was doing on one occasion. This creates a consistency that I like, you can make it thicker or thinner depending on your taste and required use.
300g tahini (I am quite specific about the tahini use, Lebanese is the best if you can find it; failing that, something of middle eastern origin is good. Greek tahini is very thick, and Turkish tahini is a lot thinner and quite bitter. I’ve tried and tested many versions and always come back to the Lebanese ones)
100ml lemon juice
Blend well and keep in the fridge. It may separate over a few days, just stir it if it does.
NOTE: I don’t add garlic to my tahini sauce, which would be typical, I like it as it is, plus I can then use it in different ways if I want to. You can’t open a food magazine today without a recipe somewhere inside that includes a tahini dressing, so your tahini sauce can provide a base for any of those; if I have leftover roasted vegetables, I often blend them with a few tablespoons of tahini sauce and create a dip; if you’ve got stewed or chopped fresh fruit, you can use tahini sauce as an alternative to yoghurt or cream; or just add a dollop to your plate with any meal – like I do! The possibilities are endless!
Having recently read Indu’s post where she made chermoula, it reminded me that I haven’t made any for while; I needed to change that, and fast, and I had all of the ingredients to hand, so that’s what I did…
1 large bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 large bunch coriander, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp ground roasted cumin
1 tbsp dried red pepper flakes (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon
150ml olive oil
Blend it all together, but keep it roughly chopped, don’t go so far that it becomes a green paste. You want to still be able to see the different colours of the ingredients.
NOTE: Your chermoula will keep in the fridge for several days, the flavours will only get better. You can also use the chermoula in many other ways, not just as a dip or sauce like I’ve done; it can be used to marinade chicken or halloumi or paneer or vegetables for roasting; as a sauce with fish. If you look it up, you’ll find lots of suggestions.
I placed my cooked aubergine on a bed of chopped lettuce, made a slit along the top, spooned in some tahini sauce, then lots of the chermoula, before spooning more tahini sauce all over it, and topped it all with dried barberries and roasted flaked almonds.
Perfection! The collection of flavours is so good, whether you just chopped and roasted the aubergine, or created a vessel like I did. It all just works together.
And Happy Easter, enjoy your weekend 🙂