Aubergines – a treat from the Med grown in St Albans

So shiny, so smooth, so purple, so what do you do with it? Aubergines are in season thanks to our St Albans grower’s glasshouses, and while most people know how to roast an aubergine, what else can we do with this superb fruit?

If you are looking at an older recipe, it will probably tell you to salt the aubergine before attempting anything. This isn’t really necessary any more as aubergines have been bred to be less bitter, and most recipes take account for the fact that aubergine carry a lot of water by grilling, or roasting etc to remove the moisture, or taking advantage of it by making a silky sauce or dip.

To roast  simply chop into 2cm cubes and toss in a little oil (it will absorb pretty much as much as you give it so keep it light handed on the oil front) and either a little rosemary or thyme or some middle eastern spices like ras el hanout depending on what it is being served with. 20 minutes in a hot oven should leave it golden and tender.

If adding to a curry I tend to roast first and add at the end to stop it dissolving into the dish (although sometimes this can add a lovely texture).

I also love baba ganoush – the silky dip made with whole roasted aubergines, lemon, garlic and often tahini (although my favourite recipe omits this). Roast or grill whole and when totally soft, remove and allow to cool. Remove the charred skin and add the flesh, lemon juice (roughly 1/2 a lemon per aubergine), garlic (clove per…) and a glug of oil to the blender et voila!

One of my favourite uses of aubergines is a Sicilian dish caponata – almost a fresh chutney, which can be served hot or cold and goes amazingly well with cured meat and cheese. There are a million different variations – all (of course) just like mama used to make, but most involve aubergines, onions, capers and tomatoes with some vinegar and herbs. Fry the aubergines and onions, add a couple of spoonfuls of a mild vinegar and fry off, then add chopped tomatoes oregano and the capers and simmer down to a lovely … well.. caponata! There really is no right or wrong so have a try – if its a bit vinegary for you, you can always add a little sugar at the end to balance.

Our Aubergine recipe links

Ratatouille with socca flatbread

Pork and Aubergine curry

Lentil Moussaka

Lamb chops with roast veg couscous