Happy Bank Holiday weekend everyone! We decided to stay in London, although it would have been pretty nice to run away somewhere warm from the hail and snow storms that we have been experiencing here this week. The weekend so far has been wonderful and relaxing, nice walks, lots of cooking and hanging out with friends.
Therefore there will be some recipes coming up and here comes the first one.
Aubergine is one of my favourite vegetables and Riz loves it too. This recipe for aubergine with buttermilk sauce is from Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook (p. 110) and it makes a rustic starter or a delicious side dish for a light supper. And best of all, it’s so simple and easy to make and goes perfectly with meat dishes, such as my turkey burgers.
Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend of sumac, sesame seeds and herbs.
2 large and long aubergines
80ml olive oil
1½ tsp lemon thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs to garnish
1 tsp za’atar
maldon sea salt and black pepper
100g Greek yoghurt
1½ tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle to finish
1 small garlic clove, crushed
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Wash the aubergines and cut them in two lengthways through the green stalk (it looks better like this, even though you don’t eat the stalk). Make three or four deep parallel incisions in the cut side of the aubergine, taking care not to cut as far as the skin. Then, at a 45-degree angle to these cuts, make four more, to create a diamond pattern.
Put the aubergines, cut side up, on an oven tray lined with baking parchment and brush with the oil. Keep on brushing until all the oil has soaked into the flesh. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35-40 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft, flavoursome and well browned. Remove and leave to cool.
While the aubergines are in the oven, cut the pomegranate in two horizontally. Hold one half over a bowl, the cut side facing your palm, and with the back of a wooden spoon gently knock on the skin. Continue beating with increasing power until the seeds start falling into the bowl. Once all are out, sift through the seeds to remove any white skin bits. For the sauce, simply whisk together all the ingredients, taste for seasoning and keep cold until needed.
To serve, put an aubergine half on a plate, flesh side up. Spoon over lots of sauce without covering the stalk, sprinkle on lots of pomegranate seeds and some za’atar, garnish with lemon thyme and finish with a drizzle of oil.
I didn’t have lemon thyme available so I replaced it with grated lemon skin and garnished with chopped parsley – worked wonderfully.
The yoghurt sauce is a regular presence in Ottolenghi’s recipes – that’s because it has the ability to round up so many flavours and textures like no other component do. Here, part of the yoghurt has been replaced with buttermilk, which adds an acidity that works wonders with the slightly greasy nature of the aubergine and the sweet pomegranate seeds.