Aubergines, or eggplants, are amongst my favourite vegetables to cook, and I really enjoy finding new ways of presenting them at the table and giving them a new taste. This aubergines recipe is inspired by a dish I found in the book Jerusalem, by Ottolenghi and Tamimi, which was given to me as a present not so long ago. As you can imagine, in the land where baba ghanoush was created, aubergines have an essential place in the kitchen and perhaps aubergines are the reason why I lust so much over Levantine and Middle Eastern cuisine. The original recipe comes with a sauce made of chopped lemons, which I had to change because my other half doesn’t like lemon that much. Also, I had to change some of the spices compared to the original recipe, simply because I did not have the required ones in my cupboard. The result was still magnificent, I believe, thanks to the feta cheese, something I would have never dreamed of adding to fried onions. If you don’t believe it, please try this recipe, you won’t regret it!
2 large aubergines, halved lengthwise with the stem on
200ml olive oil (I used extra virgin)
4 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1½ green chillies
1½ tsp paprika
1 tsp grated lemon zest
50g feta, broken into chunks
50ml sherry vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
salt and black pepper
Step 1 – With a knife, execute a criss cross cut on the fleshy sides of the aubergines, then brush them with 100ml of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes at 220º C (200º C if ventilated) until the flesh is golden brown and completely cooked. A trick that I learned from the book Jerusalem, is that in order for the aubergines not to get crispy, it’s a good idea to add moist to the oven. The easiest way of doing this is to add a shallow oven tray with water at the bottom of the oven while the aubergines are cooking.
Step 2 – While the aubergines are in the oven, fry your onions in 50ml olive oil. Add some salt and let them fry on a high heat for about 8 minutes, until some of them become dark and crispy. Deseed and chop the chilies, keeping the half separate from the whole one. Add the paprika, lemon zest and one chili to the onions and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the feta and cook for a final minute, being careful not to stir too much, then remove from the heat.
Step 3 – Put the vinegar in a small container with 50ml olive oil. Add the crushed garlic and the chopped half chili and stir your vinaigrette.
Step 4 – Once the aubergines are roasted, place them on a serving dish. Add the vinaigrette all over the flesh of the aubergines, making sure you spread it evenly. Then warm up the onions if needed and spoon them on top of your aubergines to serve either warm or at room temperature. Your dish is ready, let us know if you try it and if you find it as special as I did!