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This is one for the boys, namely George and Joe, who both love this aubergine salad recipe.

I have been making this salad for so long that I now don’t recall the origin of the recipe. It is equally good as a salad, or puréed in the food processor as a vegetarian pate.

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The herbs can be changed to vary the flavour depending on taste and what you have available fresh. In the master recipe I have specified Oregano, I also like Coriander or Mint.

AUBERGINE SALAD

2 largish aubergines

Half teaspoon cumin seeds

1 large or 2 small cloves garlic – finely chopped

2 table spoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Pinch of salt

Fresh oregano – finely chopped

Fresh chilli – finely chopped

Chives finely – chopped

I have found that the best way to cook the Aubergine for this is in the microwave, although you can roast them if you prefer.

Prick the Aubergine all over with a fork to prevent any explosions and put on a plate  in the microwave. Cook at full power for two minutes.

Turn over and cook for another two minutes.

Depending on the size of the vegetables and the power of you microwave they may now be cooked . They want to feel soft all the way through.

If they need a bit more cooking, turn them on their side and cook for another minute.

They can be turned to the other side and given another minute of cooking if you think that they need it.

Let cool until only warm and handleable.

Meanwhile toast the cumin seeds in a shallow thick based pan until they are slightly coloured and you can smell their aroma. Grind them and the salt with a pestle and mortar.

Once the aubergines are cool cut them into small cubes. I grow on the farm a variety of Aubergine called Gandia which has very thin soft skin, so I leave it on, but if the skin is tough remove it before cutting up the flesh.

Put in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

If you are making pate, put all the ingredients in the food processor instead and process to a purée.

Leave for an hour at room temperature for the flavours to develop with one another before serving.

HUMMUS.

A classic revisited.

hummus

Mass production has turned this dish into a bland cream, let’s get back to the super tasty dish that it started life as. The deep nutty flavour of the toasted sesame seeds blended with that of the chick peas should be the first to hit the taste buds, then the pungency of the garlic closely followed by the citrus sharpness of the lemon. If you like you can also add some finely chopped fresh coriander to add yet another flavour.

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 jar or tin chick peas

2 cloves garlic – chopped

Grated rind and juice of a lemon – unwaxed if possible

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Picante paprika or pimenton

Put the sesame seeds in a shallow thick based pan and toast on a low heat shaking from time to time until light brown and giving off their distinctive aroma.

Grind to a paste with a pestle and mortar adding the olive oil to moisten as you go along.

Drain the chick peas from their liquid and rinse well to wash off the starchy residue.

Put in the food processor with the sesame paste, garlic, lemon rind and juice. Process to a paste – but not a smooth puree – leave some texture in the chick peas. Add more oil if it seems too dry.

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Put in a small bowl with the paprika sprinkled over.

Serve with warm pitta bread.

Try hummus rissoles – add egg, then egg and breadcrumb or flour and fry

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