Perfect eggplants are a glory to look at. Shimmering purple, with a promise of so much under that sometimes tough outer purple layer. Then ther are the Thai globular eggplants, gorgeous again in their sheer perfection. It is rare that a week goes by without us slice or dicing, baking or grilling eggplants. Japanese cuisine, Indian dishes and Middle Eastern food are just rife with the best of ways to use eggplants.
Nigel Slater though, is generally purely British in his approach to food, and unashamedly so. He doesn’t like to steam eggplant, for example (one of my favourite ways with this vegetable. However I love his books and his one-eyed approach. At the moment I am finding Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries I and II very inspiring for evening supper-type meals. Quick to cook, open to adjustment, not too many steps or ingredients, his (vegetarian) food is my food at the moment. I am often home late-ish, so something quick and healthy is perfect for me.
And just to break the stereotype, this dish have overtones of, perhaps, a combination of Greek, Italian and Middle Eastern food.
Are you looking for other Eggplant dishes? Try Cheese and Eggplant Torte, Baked Eggplant Stuffed with Cheese and Tomatoes, and Roasted Eggplants with a Garlic Sauce, Pinenuts and Basil.
Baked Garlicky Eggplant with Feta
You will need some sheep feta, a few leaves of mint, some pine nuts and a couple of aubergines. Also some garlic paste or garlic cloves. Perhaps half a red chilli. A dried green herb (I used rosemary, he suggest oregano.) Some beautiful bread, maybe flat, and some unctuous olive oil.
As you walk in the door from work, turn the oven on to 200C and pour yourself a beverage of choice. Slice a couple of Aubergines lengthwise into 4 or 5 thick slices (1 per person max, 1/2 each if eating as part of a larger meal, or if you are a small eater).
Whizz up some olive oil with garlic cloves or garlic paste, some black pepper, your dried herb of choice and a little chilli. Drizzle it over the cut sides of the aubergines and slip them into the now-hot oven for 20 mins.
Replenish your beverage of choice, and crumble some feta. Chop the mint leaves, toast the pine nuts and make yourself a green salad. Turn the TV on.
As you remove the aubergines from the oven, quickly put them onto an awesome serving plate, scatter them with the feta, then mint, then pinenuts. Drizzle with a little more olive oil.
Nigel says these are juicy, silky, nutty and warm, and he is right. Grab yourself a knife and fork, the salad, your drink and the eggplant, and head for the couch and the TV, just in time to watch the late news.
Add some fresh parsley to the oil blend. Instead of blending the oil mix, begin with an Italian tomato sauce – whatever you have in the fridge e.g. pasta sauce, pizza sauce etc – and add the garlic, oil and herbs to that, then spread onto the eggplant. Have a favourite spice mix that you use for everything? Add some to the oil or tomato mixture.
You could also make this on a covered BBQ, for some wonderful smoky flavours. Yum.