The most misunderstood purple fruit.
4 great aubergine recipes that are quick, easy and healthy
There is just so something utterly seductive about a glossy purple aubergine. I just have to buy the egg shaped fruit whenever it is in season. Not everybody feels the same way, in fact the earlier varieties, which were more bitter than the ones we use today, were thought to be able to cause insanity, leprosy and cancer. Funny because we now know that the skin is an antioxidant.
You say Eggplant, I say Aubergine – it’s a fruit
The ancient ancestors of eggplant grew wild in India and were first cultivated in China in the 5th century B.C. Eggplant was introduced to Africa before the Middle Ages and then into Italy, Europe was last in the chain, where it was used more as a decorative plant for some time. Not until the 18th century did it throw off it’s bitter reputation and wear the royal purple with pride. Anyway, here are 4 great ways to eat them.
1. Eggplant Salad with Honey dressing – serves 3-4
Requires 2 hour soaking time. Seriously if you can not be bothered or do not have the time, dice into 2cm cubes and roast your aubergine to skip the soaking and crumb coating bit, like I have above. Simply mix in 2tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper and pop in the oven for approx 15 – 20 mins, 180°C, do not let them turn to mush.
Your will need
- 2 aubergines
- 325ml milk
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp polenta
- neutral oil for frying/roasting
- 60ml/¼ cup olive oil
- juice and zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
- 120ml/½ cup tahini
- 2 tbsp honey
- 4 tsp of dried capers
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- large bunch of mint and a pick of thyme
- 100g or so of fresh salad leaves
Wash and cut the aubergines into 1cm thick discs and layer them in shallow dish. Alternatively dice and roast the aubergine, it needs a little bite. Pour over the milk and make sure all the flesh is covered. In the meantime make the sweet dressing by combining the olive oil, zest and juice of the lemons, tahini, and honey. I stick it all in my processor but you can heat the honey slightly and shake in a roomy container. Add warm water or Greek yogurt to achieve a thick pouring consistency. Toast the sesame seeds until golden. Put both aside.
Mix the flour and polenta together and tip the mix onto baking paper or into a resealable bag. Drain the aubergine and cover in the polenta mix. Heat oil in a large frying pan and fry the aubergine slices in batches, on both sides, until they’re golden brown, then drain on kitchen paper. Whilst still warm season with salt and pepper.
Finely chop the mint and thyme and mix into the salad leaves with the capers, dress with a little oil and lemon juice now if you want to. Top with the warm aubergines slices and drizzle with the honey dressing and finish with the toasted sesame seeds. Serve with warm wholemeal pita or rice with lime zest.
A fantastic source of fibre with zero fat or carbs aubergine is a good source of many vitamins and minerals but its rise to fame, in the health conscious world, is that famous skin. The stuff the plant uses to fight bacteria, fungi and the oxidative stress from the elements is good for us too.
2. Aubergine and red rice – serves four
You will need
- 100g/½ cup red or brown rice
- 3 aubergines – diced into about 2cm cubes
- salt and ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 brown onions – sliced
- 4 garlic cloves – crushed
- 300g tomatoes – skinned and quartered/tin tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
Cook the rice as per packet instructions, drain and set aside. Toss the washed diced aubergine in the olive oil, salt and pepper and pop in the oven for approx 15 – 20 mins, 180°C, do not let them turn to mush.
While they are cooking saute the onions and garlic over a low heat until soft. Add the tomatoes, paste and brown spices stir and cook gently for another 15 mins, the sauce should start to thicken just as the aubergines are ready. Combine the rice and aubergine with the tomato sauce, check for seasoning. Serve with salad leaves, topped with cheddar cheese, or garlic breadcrumbs and slivered almonds.
3. Aubergine Noddles – serves two
You will need
- 2 aubergines
- neutral oil
- 100g egg noodles
- sesame oil
- 2 spring onions
- bunch of coriander
- sesame seeds – optional
For the sauce
- 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce or 1 tbsp brown sugar and 1 finely chopped red chilli
- 1 garlic clove – crushed
- a piece of fresh ginger I use 5cm – grated
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
As always I use my processor to whiz the sauce ingredients together, I usually double the above quantity, it works well with tofu. But you can shake in a container. Whatever you decide do this first, cover and put to one side to sit at room temperature.
Cut the aubergine into thick batons toss in oil and season then fry on a low heat until they start to soften. The fruit will release a little of the oil so you do not need to add more. Use this time to cook your noodles as per packet instructions, drain, return to the pot and drizzle with a little sesame oil, cover to keep warm. You can also chop your spring onions on the diagonal and chop the coriander now. When the aubergine is ready add the sauce to the pan, turn up the heat to bring the sauce to a quick boil then simmer for another five minuets or so. This is an intense sauce so feel free to add a little warm water to dilute.
To serve plate the noodles and pour over the aubergine, finish with the coriander, spring onions and sesame seeds and extra chilli if you like spicy.
When buying look for the smaller fruits with taught glossy skin. They are a member of the nightshade family and some people find them bitter or they hurt their mouths unless salted first. These days I very rarely cut and salt my aubergines unless I want to reduce the liquid in a recipe.
4. Aubergine satay – serves 4-6
- oil for frying
- 4 aubergines, washed and cut into large chunks
- 2 onions, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- ginger a 5cm piece, finely grated
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 800ml half-fat coconut milk
- 2 tbsp tamarind paste
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
Cut the aubergine into large cubes toss in oil and season then fry on a low heat until golden. You will have to do this in batches and be careful not to add too much oil. Transfer the cooked aubergine into a large pot and cook the onions in the same fry pan, no need to wash,until soft and golden. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Crush the cumin and coriander seeds and add with the turmeric and chilli powder. Cook for another 2 minuets.
Tip in the coconut milk and peanut butter and allow to simmer gently stirring until the peanut butter dissolves. Add the tamarind and aubergine back and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with rice and garnish with coriander and salted roast peanuts.
If you have a bit more time try these from Delicious Magazine.