Posts Tagged ‘eggplant’

The aubergine–eggplant–melanzane–enigmatic gentle giant of a vegetable.


Lovely conceit from Mark Bitman in The New York Times demonstrating its versatility.

Not included in the diagram but a useful addition to the repetoire, this tortino recipe is adapted from Paola Gavin’s Italian Vegetarian Cookery.


A tortino is a sort of soufflé crossed with a no-pastry pie–handy for those who need to watch their intake of refined carbohydrates.

It’s a little labour intensive but pays off.

600/700 gms aubergine [eggplant]–peeled and sliced thin



olive oil for brushing

2 1/2 oz tomato sauce–see below

2 oz grated parmesan

5 eggs

salt and pepper

Lightly salt the aubergine slices and leave them to drain for at least an hour.

Set the oven to 190C

Dry the slices in between sheets of kitchen paper.


Oil a couple of shallow oven trays.

Lightly brush the slices with olive oil and lay them out on the trays.


Bake for 5 minutes each side on the top shelf of the oven–one tray at a time.

Heat a cast iron grill pad to hot.

Transfer the slices onto the grill pad and char them for a couple of minutes each side.


(The grilling adds a smokey taste; you could fry the slices or just leave the slices in the oven longer but they must cook to tender.)

Oil a shallow oven dish and layer the cooked slices in the bottom.


Whisk the cheese and the tomato sauce together and season with salt and pepper.

Whisk the eggs and stir them well into the mixture.


Pour this over the aubergines.

Make sure the mix covers the aubergine slices.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.


Quick Tomato sauce

A handy standby sauce.

I made this in a jiffy this morning and used 2 1/2 oz of it for the tortino leaving easily enough for our pasta tonight–giving me time to follow some of today’s stage in the Tour de France!

2 tbsp olive oil

large tin of tomatoes–drained of their juice and roughly chopped.

garlic cloves–peeled and thinly sliced.

salt and pepper.

2 sprigs of rosemary–chopped.

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic and the rosemary.

Soften the garlic, being careful not to let it burn–a few seconds.

Add the tomatoes


and cook over a high heat–stirring often–until the loose liquid has evaporated and little pockmarks appear on the surface.

If you can part the Red Searunning a spoon through it–it’s done.

Season with salt and pepper.


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Aubergines/eggplants–are piled high on the market stalls at the moment and I’m ever on the lookout for new ways to cook them.

Beautiful shiny black, purple and even white torpedoes, these enigmatic vegetables have always felt a bit daunting to me–where does one start!

Well yesterday I started with Nigel Slater’s heavy tome Tender (weighs in at 4 lbs).

He’s an English cookery writer with an air of the solitary about him and a touch of genius, who wrote  about his childhood in a book called Toast.

Tender is the story of his urban London vegetable garden:

As the church bells chimed New Year’s Eve and fireworks lit up the night sky, I vowed to dig up my lawn and grow at least some of my own vegetables.

So far I’ve not dug deeply into it. Time to look again.

The section on aubergines is extensive–and this simple recipe leapt out at me.

We had these last night as a light supper with green beans (their ubiquity is beginning to cause comment!).

for two

1 large aubergine/eggplant–sliced carefully into rounds about a 1.5 cm/.75″ thick

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves of garlic–thinly sliced

1lb/450gms tomatoes–cut up with their juice

1 dried red chili–chopped roughly

salt and pepper

more olive oil as you need it

4 tablespoons grated parmesan

  • salt the aubergines and leave them to drain for an hour or so.

set the oven at 220C/425F

  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and soften the garlic–about 30 seconds.
  • Put in the tomatoes and the chili, season and cook over a medium high heat until you have a sauce–stirring often.
  • Line a shallow oven tray with foil and brush it lightly with oil.
  • Brush the aubergine rounds with olive oil.
  • Arrange them on the tray and bake in the upper part of the oven until soft (undercooked aubs are un-eatable!)-15-20 minutes–turning them over after 10 minutes.
  • Pile some sauce on each round–be generous–and top with some parmesan.
  • Put the tray back in the oven for 15 minutes.
  • the rounds should come out–as Nigel puts itsizzling!

This is how much we liked them..!

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Caponata has as many versions as there are towns in Sicily, no doubt!

Everyone has their way of cooking this traditional peasant dish.

The English cook Jamie Oliver calls it Incredible Sicilian Aubergine Stew.

It’s a good description; this is adapted from his version.

(There are echoes of the French ratatouille, of course.)

This recipe is in my cookbook, Delicious Dishes for Diabetics,  which is published in August in the UK, November in the USA.

for 4

2 large aubergines (aka eggplant)–cut in chunks, salted and left to drain–overnight if you can, but an hour or two anyway (They soak up less oil this way, when cooked.) Dry them thoroughly with kitchen paper.

1 tsp dried oregano


1 small red onion–chopped fine

2 garlic cloves–sliced fine

1 small bunch parsley– stalks chopped separately very finely–(chop the leaves finely too to scatter over the finished dish)

2 tablespoons of capers–drained and squeezed free of liquid

A handful of green olives–stoned, if you’ve time

2/3 tablespoons herb vinegar (I use tarragon vinegar)–not more or it dominates

5 ripe tomatoes (tinned, if it’s not the season)–roughly chopped

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan.

Add the aubergine chunks and oregano (do this in two lots if your pan isn’t big enough)

Cook on a highish heat to brown the chunks, turning them as they colour.

(This is the longest part of the cooking.)

When the aubergines are nicely coloured, add the onion, garlic and the parsley stalks.

Cook for a couple of minutes.

Add more olive oil if you feel it needs it.

Add the olives, capers, and herb vinegar.

When vinegar has evaporated, add the tomatoes.

Bring up to a simmer and cook on a gentle heat for 15 to 20 mins, covered for the first 10 minutes, until the aubergines are really melting.

Season with pepper and salt–bearing in mind that you salted the aubergines earlier.

Sprinkle over the parsley.

Serve with extra olive oil on hand.

Tonight we have a vegetarian among the six, so I am serving this as a vegetable with our slow roast shoulder of lamb and as the main dish for the vegetarian.

caponata–tastes better than it looks!

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