Every so often I have a cull of the paper recipes I have collected over the last twenty years. And, when that happens, since I’m usually overwhelmed by the volume of rubbish and unusable ideas that are clogging up my flat, I’m brutal. Something that stays has to be really good, or completely unexpected or, in most cases, brilliantly fast for me to keep and try it (because, oh yes, I hang on to some for years without even making them). This recipe, which is, I think, from Nigel Slater in the Observer, survived the cull because I had never heard of baking aubergines with cream before. Aubergines seem almost, well, too fatty, to be put with dairy. Mind you, even though it survived several culls it has taken me an age to make it. Which is a shame, because it’s delicious. Whoever wrote it forgot to list how much cream is included and the recipe is not on the internet (or I can’t find it, even using the title word for word); however in Nigel Slater’s Tender Volume 1 he has a similar 1-2 aubergine dish which uses 400ml. You need enough to cover the vegetables and that’s about right. I’d also say use liquid cream (so single or double) not crème fraîche because the latter doesn’t work as well. Something simple would be good with this since it’s quite rich: just bread, if you’re feeling frugal, or some plain grilled or roasted meat. And, yes, I have just realised that that’s two Tuesdays in a row with aubergines for dinner but bet you’re bored with baba ghanoush and moussaka…
For two you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
olive oil, about 125ml
onions, 2 medium white ones
garlic, 2 cloves
sea salt and black pepper
aubergines, 2 medium
coriander seed, 1 teaspoon
cumin seed, 1 teaspoon
fresh basil, a large handful of leaves
fresh mint, a large handful of leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 5.
2. Prep: peel and chop the onions and garlic and rinse the herbs and leave to drain. Top and tail the aubergines and then chop them into big cubes.
3. Heat some oil (you’ll need quite a bit, depending on the size of your aubergines; they are like sponges) and then cook the aubergine cubes until they are soft and light golden.
4. Whilst the aubergine is cooking, toast the cumin and coriander in another, small, dry frying pan over a medium heat until fragrant (this should take no more than a couple of minutes depending on the heat). Don’t let them burn because they will be unusable. Once toasted, crush them in a pestle and mortar or pulse in a blender/food processor.
5. When the aubergine is cooked, take it out of the pan (don’t drain it or wash it up yet) and put it on a plate covered with kitchen paper to soak up some of the oil.
6. Add the onions and garlic to the aubergine pan and cook until soft and golden too then add the spices and stir in.
7. Now mix the onions with the aubergines and tip into a baking dish.
8. Mix the drained herb leaves with the cream and pour over the vegetables.
9. Season and bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes or until bubbling and golden.