Category Archives: Aubergine

Luscious lunches…

It’s been a little while since I shared some of my lunches, so here’s a few to tempt your tastebuds…and maybe your eyes…

To start, here’s some roasted butternut squash wedges, drizzled with a sauce of chickpeas, kefir yoghurt, tahini & garlic; with a green sauce of avocado, parsley, coriander, kefir yoghurt, mixed roasted seeds (pumpkin, sunflower & linseeds), garlic, chilli, lemon juice & salt; and with a salsa of parsley, coriander, garlic, spring onions, chilli, roast cumin, olive oil & apple cider vinegar; with toasted pine nuts…

Or…baked aubergines loaded with my Mexican chilli sauce, topped with grated cheese, spring onions, chillies, soured cream and lovely, soft avocado…

A quick pan full of flavour made from a can of chopped tomatoes + several tablespoons of my own harissa plus a teaspoon or two of ras el hanout, an egg in the middle, a sprinkle of leftover Parmesan and a sprinkle of home roasted seeds…

Salad of roasted aubergines, chopped and mashed, skin and all, with finely chopped garlic, spring onions & chillies, olive oil & lemon juice, and roughly chopped parsley and coriander…

Plus I’ve been whizzing up various sauces and dips and pastes as usual…

I do like mixing up leftovers and concocting something completely new…this began life as homemade chermoula (fresh parsley, fresh coriander, garlic, sweet paprika, ground cumin, pul biber chilli flakes, olive oil & lemon juice), to which I added some defrosted peas and spinach; and then mixed with my leftover mutabal (aubergine, tahini, lemon juice, yoghurt, cumin & garlic), and it’s now a whole new level of GOOD!

Below is a preserved lemon and olive harissa…
Lunch anyone?

Tian time!

I’ve been slicing and stacking and playing with vegetables over the last week, and producing various versions of a ‘tian’. Not to be confused with a traditional ratatouille, which is often presented in the same way, my tians have included not the courgettes, aubergines and tomatoes sitting on a base of onions and garlic of a ratatouille, but my version based on whatever I had to hand! 

As is my way, I was already knee deep in making dinner for my boys when I decided to give a tian a go, so it was a bit of a rush job..

This was sliced aubergine, courgette and sweet potato sitting on a slick of one of my homemade Mexican chilli sauces. I put a lid on the pot and baked it for half an hour, then removed the lid, sprinkled over it all some spices and grated cheese and cooked it further..

And it was good!!! Maybe not very pretty, but very tasty.

The leftovers were even tastier the next day..

I tried again a few days later but this time with aubergine, sweet potato and tomatoes – and this one was even better. The added moisture of the tomatoes is definitely a winner..

I decided to line the slices up in a rectangular pan which worked just as well, even if it doesn’t look as pretty. I also baked it uncovered for the whole time and sprinkled a smaller amount of cheese over it all 10 minutes before it was finally removed from the oven..

It really is a winner, I’ll be making this more and more often!

I think they look great when you serve them up, definitely a great option for Christmas if you’re looking for a side dish or vegetable based main dish. You could always replace the cheese topping with something else, or just leave it off, for a vegan. And try serving it with a dip, sauce or homous.

If you’re going to have a go yourself:

I would allow an hour to bake the dish 

Try and slice everything thinly and of even thickness, you could use a mandolin or slicer if you have one, I don’t!

Slice up all of the your chosen vegetables and create piles

Then start by stacking them, holding them in your hand to create a starting stack, before sitting them into the cooking pot, then start adding the rest

Include tomatoes

Sit the slices on a bed of something with some flavour 

Try mixing up the vegetables 

Keep it as colourful as possible 

Always make enough to have leftovers!!! 

I’ve had lots of fun making these – and eating them πŸ™‚

If you celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday, I hope you had a great day. Now let’s join Fiesta Friday, with our lovely co hosts Julianna and Hilda, and see what everyone else is up to…

Luscious lunches…

I make a lot of food. A LOT.

Let me explain: I eat virtually every single meal that I ever eat at home, and I make every single part of those meals.  And I eat a lot!!

I might eat food that I haven’t made a MAXIMUM of twice a month; other than that, I only ever eat food that I have made myself. And I love it! I know exactly what’s going into my body, and I know that I’m going to enjoy my food, and that it’s going to nourish me in every possible way. (And actually, on the occasions that I do eat something that I haven’t made, I end up feeling like I’ve missed out, because I miss eating my own food!)

I don’t ever ‘grab a sandwich’ or open a pot of soup or any kind of packet; I eat meals I can take time over, time to make and time to eat. I make versions of past dishes, versions of elements of dishes, new dishes, experiments, I use lots of leftovers, I make make make all the time.  I have a lot of food preparation happening in my kitchen constantly, for me and my boys. I routinely cook a couple of different grains at a time and have them available in the fridge; I endlessly roast vegetables to use once cooked and to create leftovers; I make sauces, dips, spice mixes, marinations, doughs, salads, chillis, curries, the list goes on…and a big part of this is because I can, I have the time, and because I want to. I spend a lot of time cleaning my kitchen too!

I also take a lot of photos of my food! Instagram is great for sharing those dishes daily, but not everyone is on Instagram and I like to share them on here too, in the hope that I may provide ideas and inspiration. Sometimes I wonder if each dish constitutes a post of their own, but then I think they’re too simple, hence why I share collections of dishes, which is what I am doing again today. And I’ve decided to call this, and future, collections ‘luscious lunches’ as these are typically my lunch dishes.

I am also co hosting Fiesta Friday today, along with Michelle from O Blog Off, and look forward to the huge amounts of weekly inspiration that I’m sure I will find there πŸ™‚ 

So, let me show you some recent dishes from my kitchen…there’s been a lot of Levantine and Middle Eastern flavours recently…

Chunks of carrot and sweet potato, steamed, then finished in a pan with coconut oil; with a version of chimichurri made with lots of verjus instead of vinegar, and added crushed roasted hazelnuts. 

Leftover roasted aubergines as per my previous post, with tomatoes and chopped parsley, and a version of chermoula, and toasted slivered almonds. 

Wedges of butternut squash, roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and dukkah, with a sauce of yoghurt, olive oil, lemon juice & pomegranate juice, topped with fresh coriander and pomegranate seeds.

Leftover freekeh and couscous topped with leftover roasted carrots from one meal that became…

…this lunch, topped with sumac, tahini sauce, dried barberries, toasted slivered almonds & pistachios.

Couscous with parsley, coriander, dukkah, toasted almonds & dried barberries, with a dressing of lemon juice & olive oil.

The above salad eaten with a salad of cooked carrot mashed with herbs, tabil spice mix, tahini & lemon juice.

Cauliflower roasted with olive oil & hawaayij spice mix, with freshly made homous.

Roasted butternut squash slices, topped with a thinned homous & toasted nuts, with baby plum tomatoes and a salad of aubergine, garlic, chopped parsley, tahini & lemon juice.

Couscous with roasted butternut squash, red onions & garlic. 

Carrot and herb salad.

A pan full of red onion, garlic and tomatoes, cooked in coconut oil, with several spoonfuls of my Mexican chilli and cocoa sauce, avocado, egg and grated hard goats cheese. 

And this dish at the start of this post, aubergine, tomatoes, chopped herbs, freekeh, and homous

Lots of fresh vegetables, and goodness, and versions of versions, and LOTS of flavour! I don’t make food without flavour!!!

So that was a view of the past couple of weeks, I hope you found it interesting. 

Enjoy your Friday and your weekend, and don’t forget to visit Fiesta Friday x

Perfectly cooked aubergine…

As an aubergine lover, I believe you can’t ever go wrong with aubergine in a dish…however, I do know that not everyone would agree with me, and often that is because they’ve tried aubergine and not liked it, which is usually because the aubergine has been badly cooked. And by badly cooked, I mean either UNDER cooked, or dripping in oil 😦 

Aubergine that has NOT been cooked properly is NOT nice! The texture of properly cooked aubergine should be soft and melt in your mouth; uncooked aubergine will remain hard and slightly chewy and not at all tasty, verging on bitter. The trick is to ensure that you allow enough time to really cook aubergine well.

Aubergine cooked on a barbecue is often one of the worst culprits as far as I’m concerned, I’ve seen chunks of aubergine threaded onto skewers alongside peppers and onions, and it’s never cooked well. The peppers and onions take so much less time to cook, that the poor aubergine doesn’t get a chance to catch up. My advice: cook them separately!! 

Likewise, if you find lovely chunks of aubergine in a dish like curry/stew/ratatouille and it’s not cooked, it’s such a disappointment, especially for an aubergine lover like me. In this scenario, I would consider pre-cooking the aubergine, which is what I did recently to make this gorgeous aubergine tikka masala curry

These aubergine chunks were marinated and roasted until lovely and soft, before being added to the sauce.

So good!

So my message is: please be sure to cook your aubergine well, and to this end, today I am sharing with you my current favourite way of preparing aubergine. This is how I produced these lovely aubergine slices below..

There is an assumption that to really cook aubergine well, you need lots of oil. 

This is not true.

Aubergine is like a sponge and really soaks up oil, so if you do cook aubergine slices or chunks in lots of oil, it will merely hold onto it and fill your mouth with oil when you bite into it – yuk! Use of some oil is good for cooking aubergine, it just doesn’t have to be drowning in it. I usually use an olive oil spray when roasting or baking aubergine to control the amount I use. 

For these slices, I cut the aubergines into slices between 0.5cm and 1cm thick. If you slice them too thin, they risk burning and becoming papery.

I laid the slices on a rack sitting on an oven sheet, sprayed each slice with olive oil…

I cooked these in the oven, heated to 200c, until they looked like this..

They remain uncoloured on the underneath, but that doesn’t take anything away from the finished effect. 

On the rare occasion that I haven’t eaten the whole lot straight out of the oven, I’ve used these slices chopped up in salads..

Or to scoop up salad..

Or to create a plate of layered loveliness..

These slices have been spread with homous, then topped with beautiful roasted red onion and garlic and topped with toasted nuts. 

I hope I have inspired you in a new way to cook aubergines, and news ways to enjoy them. I’ll be taking these along to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by the lovely Julie and Linda. Please do join us πŸ™‚

I’m also going to take this post along to Corina’s Cook Once, Eat Twice party, and add it to my own Pimp Your Veg collection. 

For now I’ll leave you to drool over those gorgeous roasted and caramelised red onions and garlic…

Spinach and cheese concoctions..

I always lust after images of spinach and cheese pastries, whether it’s a Greek spanakopita, or middle eastern ‘fatayer’, or Turkish ‘borek’, or any kind of version; I’m not a big pastry eater though. So, I look for other ways to create these pies or pastries, utilising the lovely flavours of the filling in other ways…

Which is how this aubergine-lined creation came to life. 

It all began with some oven roasted aubergine slices..

And when I finally stopped myself from scoffing them all, I used them to line my dish, then topped the slices with half of this mixture of baby spinach leaves, crumbled feta, chopped fresh mozzarella, chopped chives, dill & parsley, and a sprinkle of nutmeg and two eggs…

Then placed the remaining slices of aubergine over the top. If I hadn’t eaten so many, I could have formed a better top!

I then topped this with grated hard goats cheese and baked until it looked like this..

Oh yes πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ I rarely have this much cheese, but when I do, it’s a joy!!! 

The ‘pie’ held together when I cut into it and created a very lovely meal..

At the same time time I went authentic and made a filo pastry version too, layering three sheets of filo pastry for the base, and folding the edges over the top..

Which I baked until it looked like this..

Another winner..although I preferred the aubergine lined version myself. 

The next day I removed any soggy pastry and chopped up the reminds of both dishes, then threw it all in a pan with some coconut oil and tomatoes and created a whole new dish for my lunch..

Now that was tasty!!!! And very filling!!!

I enjoyed my little venture into cheese overload…that will do for now though I think…! It all tasted great though πŸ˜€

Aubergine, carrot & beetroot ‘salads’…

This little plateful of colours, somewhat like a painters palette, formed a recent meal; it included a beetroot salad, a roasted aubergine salad, a roasted carrot salad, homous, and caremalised onions.

I put salad in quotation marks because these are not what you might typically call salads – there’s no green leaves in sight and they’re quite ‘tight’, as opposed to a typically looser collection of ingredients. These are more middle eastern in style, as you’ll see from the ingredients..

You’ll also notice a theme amongst the ingredients: tahini, garlic and lemon juice, the wonderful trio that I put with so many things, and that forms the backbone of homous, along with chickpeas.

So, on the plate is..

Beetroot salad

Boiled and cooled beetroot, mashed with tahini, lemon juice & garlic

Carrot salad

Boiled, roasted and cooled carrots, mashed with olive oil, soy sauce, tahini, garlic, chopped coriander, Aleppo chilli flakes and ground roasted cumin & coriander seeds 

Aubergine salad

Whole roasted aubergine, skin removed, and mashed with tahini, lemon juice and garlic, and mixed with chopped fresh coriander and ground roasted cumin 

Plus homous, using my holy grail recipe, and sliced red onion that I’d caramelised in the oven. 

As you’ll notice, there’s no quantities, because they were all just thrown together from bits and pieces of inspiration and ideas, so I would suggest playing with the amounts. And if any of them taste or feel too ‘claggy’, just add more lemon juice, that’s my motto!

The next day I mixed up the leftovers of the carrot salad and the aubergine salad to create one thing of beauty…mmmmmm…..

I hope your week starts well πŸ™‚ 

Another day another spiced roasted aubergine…

I hate to be boring…but I do love a roasted aubergine! This one is scored, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with my chermoula spice mix and roasted until it was soft and lovely…

Lunch is served..yum yum yum…! 

What else can I say?!