My garden has given me nothing but pleasure and an abundance of fresh produce this summer. Think purple juicy beetroot; more spinach than I can eat; plump, sweet, sun ripened tomatoes of all shapes and sizes; red peppers; sweet and crisp lettuce; potatoes; radishes; marrows; beans; leeks; spring onions; kale; carrots; herbs; and gorgeous, purple, firm and fresh as ever aubergines – lots of them, in fact.
Now, I could eat aubergines 365 days of the year. There are so many ways you can have them. Did you know that aubergines are members of the same family as tomatoes, potatoes and capsicums?
They are really easy to grow, so you should definitely plant some next season. All you have to do is poke some seeds into very well manured soil and wait for things to happen.
I sow the seeds and then I can’t wait for them to germinate. Once that has happened, I keep a watchful eye on them. I feed water and keep them staked. I can’t even describe the feeling when I see the first flowers appear, and when the flower turns into a fruit…it fills me with pure delight, not to mention that my mouth starts telling me instantly how many ways it would like them cooked. I harvest my aubergines while the fruit is firm and the skin is still glossy, as this usually coincides with the flesh being sweet and seeds small and soft.
I’ve made ratatouille; moussaka; parmigiana di melanzane; Imam Bayildi; baba ghanoush; Greek melitzanosalata; curried them with butter beans and potatoes; deep fried them and topped them with a yoghurt and tahini sauce; smoked them for pate; and thinly sliced them and made aubergine chips. Nutritionally, eggplant is low in fat, so you can eat lots of them. You just have to make sure you don’t cook it in lots of fat and they will turn out creamy and delicious.
A little tip a Greek friend gave me was to always use a stainless steel knife to cut an aubergine because he said carbon steel will react with the phytonutrients and cause it to turn black. Wash the eggplant first before slicing.
To salt or not to salt – I like to salt because this helps to draw out the bitterness that some aubergines have. Salting also collapses the membranes, making it less sponge-like so it will not absorb fat so easily. I sweat them for about 30 minutes, rinse under fresh water and dry well before cooking.
Haloumi aubergine wraps
- 3 long, slim, firm aubergines, sliced into 16 thin slices lengthways
- Olive oil
- 8 medium squares of Haloumi, fried
- 8 tsp basil pesto
- 2 firm avocados, sliced
- Pine nuts for garnish
- Rocket for garnish
Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil and grill or fry lightly on both sides to soften them. Drain on a kitchen towel.
Lay out 8 aubergine slices on a flat surface. Now cross them with the remaining slices to make 8 crosses.
Place a square of Haloumi cheese in the centre, spread with pesto and top with avocado. Fold the ends of the aubergines around the filling.
Arrange onto a bed of fresh rocket– 2 per person. Drizzle with a little minted yoghurt and top with pine nuts and chopped parsley.
© Jenny Morris More Rude Food 2006- 2014