It was summer last week, or at least it felt like it till the sun went down. I was in short sleeves, sandals, my coat thrown jauntily across my arms. Today, however, in the self-same outfit, I felt rather foolish shivering behind my desk. Tomorrow there will be socks. And boots. Perhaps even a scarf. But though the temperature is retreating, my head and tastebuds have moved on and there is no going back. Last week, as the sun went down I indulged in this dip with my neighbours; it is a classic Ottolenghi recipe, full of taste and texture and yet, for once, not very complicated. All you need to do is bake an aubergine or two, let them cool, then mix the flesh with the other ingredients. Okay, it’s not necessarily an after-work dinner or even that quick but I guarantee you that, whether wearing socks or flip-flops, it will make you feel summery.
Burnt aubergine dip (adapted from Plenty)
For two to three ‘dip’ portions you will need
Cupboard (or things you may already have):
sea salt and black pepper
aubergine, 1 large or 2 medium
tahini paste, 70g
pomegranate molasses, 2 teaspoons (if you can’t find this it won’t hurt too much to miss it out)
fresh flat-leaf parsley, a good handful (about 3 tablespoons when chopped apparently but mine never sits in a spoon)
pomegranate, half a large one
pitta or pide breads, to serve
1. First ‘burn’ your aubergine(s). The most effective, and fastest way, is to burn it/them directly over the flames on a gas hob, turning frequently until the skin is black and the flesh soft. Not having gas I did mine under the grill: pierce each one a few times with a knife, put them on a baking sheet and grill until blackened all over and soft. This will take about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the effectiveness of your grill. Make sure you turn them over every ten minutes so that they blacken evenly on all sides.
2. Whilst the aubergine is cooking, prep everything else. Peel, top and tail and crush or thinly slice the garlic clove and put in a bowl with 60ml of cold water. Add the tahini and pomegranate molasses then juice the half-lemon and add 1 tablespoon of the juice to the other ingredients. Finally, rinse and chop the parsley and add that too.
3. Once the aubergine is cooked, leave it to cool then scrape out the flesh and put it in a sieve/colander to drain for about 30 minutes (told you it wasn’t fast…).
4. Mix the drained aubergine flesh with everything else and season to taste; you may want to add a little more pomegranate molasses if it’s too sharp, or more lemon juice if too sweet.
5. Dress with a handful of pomegranate seeds and a splash of olive oil.
6. Warm or toast the pittas/pides and serve with the dip.