Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Aubergines - Purple Beauties

Fellow blogger, Georgina from Culinary Travels, has published my aubergine blogpost on her site.

So if you're after some inspiration of how to cook aubergines or fancy trying a new recipe, take a look at Culinary Travel's link:  

You can also follow Culinary Travels on Facebook and Twitter!

(For ease, you can also see my Aubergine blogpost below).


Adventures in Veg - Aubergines

Whether you call them aubergines or whether you call them eggplants, their versatility is vast, but sadly, they are one of the most underrated/ignored vegetables on the veggie rack.
I think most people feel comfortable with the classics like cabbage, cauliflower, potato etc but although aubergines have been a permanent feature in our supermarkets for many years now, so many people walk on by and don’t bother with them.  Perhaps because they don’t know how to prepare them or have heard that it needs pre-salting which may seem fiddly.  However, for those aubergines imported into Western Europe this isn’t necessary anymore and with the way that crops are grown, the bitterness that used to be present in aubergines is now minimal.  But the advantage that pre-salting does offer is that is it reduces the amount of fat that is absorbed during cooking, so the choice is yours – to salt or not to salt.
I have to say, I’m well and truly on ‘Team Aubergine’ and endorse all its benefits and I do think that they deserve a fair trial as they have so much to offer, especially when prepared and cooked with an army of fresh ingredients.  Tomatoes lend themselves beautifully to cooked aubergine and therefore creating a perfect culinary marriage.
As they grow in warmer climates, the bulk of the aubergine recipes come from Mediterranean countries.  One of my favourite dishes is Italian Aubergine Parmigiana where the soft pulp lengths of the fried aubergine complements the sweetness of the tomato sauce and contrasts with the stretchy saltiness of the cheese.  Easily eaten as a standalone main course, this also makes a perfect side dish and lends itself to be eaten hot or cold.   My recipe uses Stilton cheese/blue cheese as opposed to Italian hard cheese or standard Cheddar as it adds a sharp dimension to the dish which enhances the taste.
 Aubergine Parmigiana with Stilton Cheese
1 Large Aubergine, 1 x 400g Tinned Chopped Tomatoes (good quality), Himalayan Pink Salt, Stilton Cheese (veggie friendly), sprinkle of dried herbs, 1 tsp paprika and 2 tsps brown sugar.
  • Cut the aubergine lengthways, sprinkle with Himalayan Pink Salt and fry in oil until both sides are brown and soft. 
  • In a separate saucepan, heat the tinned tomatoes and add the brown sugar, paprika and herbs.  Mix well.
  • In a greased loaf tin (or any suitable baking tin), make one layer of aubergine slices and then pour a little of the tomato sauce over it.
  • Repeat until all the aubergine slices and tomato sauce have been used up.
  • Crumble some Stilton cheese on the top and then bake in the oven (Gas Mark 4) for about 15-20 minutes or until the Stilton cheese has melted.
  • Serve with crusty bread!
  • NB:  Can be served when tepid or cool and is just as delicious!

Vegetarian Moussaka is a beautiful Greek vegetable packed dish, comparable to a lasagne (if you will, without the pasta), with aubergine as its prime ingredient.  This hearty affair also adds in lentils, potatoes and creamy b├ęchamel sauce with optional veggie mince soaked in tomato juice making it an all encompassing meal covering all bases.  A suggested recipe: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/veggiemoussaka_90770 .

Turkey and many Middle Eastern countries typically dine on a dish called ‘Imam Bayildi’ which translated means “the Imam fainted”.  The story goes that a Turkish priest (Imam), was so impressed with this dish when he was eating it that he fainted!  Praise indeed for this wonderful meal!  This is yet another example of a fine union of lightly spiced aubergine and tomato sauce which works perfectly.  The aubergine is cut in half vertically to have the flesh scooped out and refilled again with tomatoes, peppers and onions and a strong cheese.  Recipe suggestion: http://www.food.com/recipe/imam-bayildi-25537

If you want to turn the heat up even more, aubergines are great in a curry and their spongy flesh absorb spices really well.  A delicious demonstration of this is via River Cottage Veg’s Aubergine & Green Bean Curry.  With supermarket spices and accompaniments readily available now, the added achievement of making your own curry paste adds another dimension to the dish.  Using tomatoes will not only fuse well with other ingredients but will also add a splash of colour and sweetness to it.  Here’s the recipe:  http://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/aubergine-and-green-bean-curry/   

These are just a few examples of how to cook aubergines, especially with tomatoes, although there is a wealth of recipes out there to choose from.  So next time you see these purple beauties on the shelf, pick one up and see what culinary journey it takes you on.

No comments:

Post a Comment