Tag Archives: aubergine

Ricotta, Aubergine, Prosciutto and Tomato Salad

This recipe was heavily inspired by a trip we took to Tuscany in June last year. We’re planning some special posts to celebrate 100 posts on the blog (only 4 more to go!) which will expand more on this and some of our other top foodie moments so keep an eye out for that! We had the most brilliant moment eating ricotta, a creamy gorgonzola, the most heavenly vine tomatoes, and two types of focaccia under the arches of the Uffizi gallery in Florence during a spectacular storm. Cuddled up together, in our anoraks (nerdy love), attracting all manner of jealous stares from everyone else who was trapped by the rain but hadn’t thought to bring lunch… the memory never fails to make us smile. We took a couple of elements of this perfect picnic, a bit of inspiration from a classic Tuscan dessert and added in our current obsession of chargrilled aubergine and a beautiful salad sprang into creation.

Salad Detail

Ingredients

  • Vine tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 aubergine, sliced into 0.5cm thick slices
  • 1 sweet, pointed red pepper
  • Ricotta
  • (Prosciutto – optional)
  • Mixed salad leaves – we chose lettuce and peppery leaves like watercress to add some bite
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Coat the tomatoes in 1tbsp of the olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and then place in a dish and put into a preheated oven at 140°C – the idea is to cook these slowly, dry them out to concentrate the flavours. The tomatoes we had in Italy were the best either of us have ever tasted and we knew that we wouldn’t get anything that delicious here so by semi-drying them we’ve managed to get a little closer. These should take around 1 hour altogether.

Slow Roast Tomatoes

Once they’re in the oven it’s time to prepare the pepper. You know those whole roasted red peppers that you get in a jar? Well this is one of them, but done fresh so it doesn’t have any of that vinegar-y taste. You can start off just holding it over a flame but we ended up rigging up a little system with two skewers going through the length of the pepper so that we could get every bit charred. The whole thing needs to be pretty blackened, it looks scary but will taste like heaven! Simply hold over an open flame, rotating every now and then to char the whole pepper – this should take about 10-15 minutes. Once it’s done pop in a freezer/sandwich bag, seal and just leave it to cool, once it has the skin will just rub off leaving you with sweet, soft flesh.

Charring a Pepper

Pepper Charred

For the aubergine salt the slices – sprinkle table salt on and stand upright for around twenty minutes then dab with kitchen paper. Mix 1 tbsp of olive oil with salt and pepper in the bowl/ramekin and then brush the slices with this before laying them on a hot griddle pan. They should only take 1 minute on each side as they are quite thin, you’ll have to do this in batches but the salad is supposed to be warm, not hot so just pop the ones you’ve done on a plate.

Aubergine Chargrilling

Now it’s assembly time – scatter some leaves on a plate, add the tomatoes, slice up the red pepper and add this. Blob some ricotta on and then drizzle each blob with a little honey and crack some black pepper on – this is a classic Tuscan dessert which we tried while dangling over the Arno, using it in a savoury dish is a little unconventional but it really works.

Tasty Ricotta

Place on the aubergine and the prosciutto if using, we used about 3 slices between us. For the dressing just mix equal quantities of good quality balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil with salt and pepper and drizzle this on.

2 Salads

Salad on the Table

We’re submitting this recipe for Fromage Homage’s Cheese, Please! Challenge, this salad will forever remind us of one of the most amazing, joyful moments we’ve had and it’s been great playing around with the flavours and putting our own spin on it.

Fromage Homage
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Harissa Aubergine with Spiced Vegetable Stew and Maneesh

It’s no secret that we’re pretty obsessed with Moroccan flavours, we thought we were before we went to Marrakech and it’s only got worse since then! The main body of this dinner is so easy – roasted vegetables with spices and chickpeas but we jazzed it up a little with some harissa infused chargrilled aubergine, homemade maneesh (middle Eastern flatbreads with herbs) and a dip/sauce to drizzle on. If you want to find the basic recipe for the roasted vegetables and maneesh then check out our recipe here – we’ll note any variations. The end result was like a big hug on a plate (that analogy doesn’t really work), warming, filling yet with some freshness from the abundance of vegetables and the tang of the pomegranate molasses. We’re praying that this miserable weather buggers off soon but while it’s hanging around this is exactly the sort of food we love to eat.

If you want to make the maneesh it does take a few hours so best save this one for when you’ve got a bit of time. Alternatively you could make the dough (mixing and kneading) the night before, leave it to prove overnight and the next day in the fridge so you would just have to do the shaping, the second rise which is shorter and the baking after work which is definitely do-able. Find the full recipe here.

Ingredients for the vegetables

  • 1 red pepper, roughly diced
  • 1 green pepper, roughly diced
  • 1-2 courgettes, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion (red or white), sliced into wedges
  • 1-2 sweet potatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, roughly diced
  • A handful of tomatoes – we used a mix of salad and cherry as it’s what we had around but cut into roughly half-cherry-tomato size
  • 1 heaped tsp of ras el hanout
  • ½ tsp sumac
  • A large pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • A splash of water
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses

Veg for Moroccan stew

As we explained how we made this in an earlier recipe we’ll be brief – throw the chopped vegetables in a large roasting dish, coat with the oil, salt and spices and put in an oven at around 190 for half an hour stirring after 15 minutes. After the half hour add the chickpeas, enough water to make a light sauce and the pomegranate molasses and put back in the oven for 15-20 minutes. All done!

Moroccan stew in progress

Ingredients for the aubergine

  • 1 large aubergine, sliced into 1-2 cm strips
  • Table salt
  • 1 heaped tsp of harissa paste
  • 2 tsp olive oil

After you’ve sliced the aubergine salt it by sprinkling both sides with table salt and then standing up to let the water run off. We don’t bother doing this if we’re cubing and roasting the aubergine with other veg but it makes a real difference doing it this way if you’re chargrilling, they’ll crisp up much better. Leave them for about 10-20 minutes and then wipe with kitchen paper. Get a griddle pan really hot and then turn the heat down to fairly low, it should stay really hot! Mix together the harissa and oil and then brush one side of an aubergine slice with this mixture and lay it down in the pan. Repeat with another couple of slices (being careful not to overcrowd the pan) and then brush the tops of them as they’re cooking. They should take about 1-2 minutes per side, try not to move them too much or you won’t get the nice griddle lines on them. Once they’re cooked pop them on a plate together and keep on cooking them in batches. Once you’ve done them all you can put the plate in the oven just for a couple of minutes to warm them up.

Harissa aubergine

Ingredients for the dip

  • Natural yoghurt
  • Moroccan chutney, but you could use harissa mixed with a little pomegranate molasses instead
  • Tahini

Simply pop some yoghurt in a dish, marble through some chutney/harissa and drizzle with tahini – the quantities are up to you but for each of us we used about 2 tbsp of yoghurt, 1 tsp of chutney and half a tsp of tahini.

Tahini and chutney dip

Now put your dinner together, just whack it all on a plate and get stuck in… it can get very messy! These would all make really nice dishes in a meze style evening too, try serving smaller quantities on little plates/bowls with the maneesh sliced into strips for dipping.

Moroccan feast done!