While in the summer there are a whole load of fresh, light and bright dinner options available, having something comforting and imaginative in a cold spring can be harder. A relatively quick and delicious meal I’ve been enjoying recently is stuffed and roasted aubergine. Served hot or warm, the spongy flesh roasts up beautifully into something rich, meaty and satisfying, serving to intensify the flavour of whatever you choose to spoon over it: today, a rich tomato sauce, served with an appetising olive tapenade, bound together with a good glug of your very best extra virgin olive oil.
Did you know that aubergine are in fact a fruit, a berry to be exact. They’re incredibly versatile: roasted, grilled, sautéed, baked, pureed…the list goes on. Their flavour is incredibly mild. Raw, an aubergine has a texture similar to a spongy apple; its cooked flesh disintegrates, if cooked long enough into slimy mush, perfect to use as a dip.
This dish works brilliantly well with courgettes too. Very useful to know when you have a glut in the summer months if you grow your own.
Stuffed Aubergine with Olive Tapenade
- 2 large aubergines
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 300 g ricotta
- 1 ½ 400g tins plum tomatoes chop before using.
- a pinch chilli flakes
- 45 g Parmesan cheese if vegetarian use a mature cheddar
- ½ lemon zest only
- small bunch basil
- 50 g pitted Kalamata olives
- 3 Tbls Extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp lemon zest
- 1 anchovy fillet
- 20 g Parmesan grated
- 1 slice sourdough crust removed
- 1 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
- Trim the aubergines, then cut into 5mm slices lengthways. Brush each slice with olive oil on both sides. Season. Heat a griddle pan over a high heat until very hot, and fry the aubergines for 5-6 mins on each side or until char lines appear and they are thoroughly cooked through. You’ll need to do this in batches. Place in a dish and set to one side.
- Now to prepare the tomato sauce. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan, add one of the minced cloves of garlic and the chilli flakes, gently fry, then swiftly add the tin tomatoes. Season and simmer for 10 minutes. Set to one side to cool.
- Combine the ricotta with the lemon zest and remaining garlic. Finely slice the basil leaves, (keep a few to garnish the dish after cooking). Add the basil to the ricotta and season with a little salt and a good grind of pepper.
- Now to assemble: take an aubergine slice and place a tablespoon of the ricotta mixture at one end. Roll the aubergine up into a fat sausage, so the filling is contained. Repeat with the remaining slices.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C fan. Pour the tomato sauce into a heat resistant dish. Place the aubergine rolls, seam side down on top of the sauce. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and the sauce is piping hot and bubbling.
- While the aubergines are baking make the tapenade. Very finely chop the olives and anchovy fillet. Place in a small bowl and add the olive oil and zest, stir.
- Tear the sourdough slice into a small crumbs. Place in a bowl and mix with the oil and Parmesan. Place on a baking tray and pop in the oven with the aubergine for 5-8 minutes or until golden.
- Top the aubergines with the Parmesan crumb, basil leaves and serve with the tapenade. Serve with a green salad – devour.
If you love aubergines, then you may like to try Moutabel a smoky aubergine dip with tahini and lemon.