Has there ever been a duller vegetable – yet with such a gorgeous jacket? I find myself marvelling at the plum-purple jackets of Aubergines (the exact hue of fresh, cask Old Peculier, I always think) much more often than I buy them; I just can’t get excited about them. You get inside that pretty coat only to find fibrous, mushy innards. Aubergines are like the cyborgs from Westworld or the lizards from V. Especially the leader of the lizards in the new V.
Anyway, I’m rambling. Here’s two things that I’ve done recently with them that make tasty eating. Firstly, you can make a pretty good Aubergine Dip by splitting the thing in two, slicing the flesh with a knife, and then smearing the top with Olive Oil and Salt.
On an oiled baking tray, bake it in a hot oven for about 25 minutes and then leave to cool. Scoop the flesh out, and put it in a blender along with a small tin of Borlotti Beans, three cloves of smashed garlic (use Smoked Garlic, if you can get it), a pinch of fresh Rosemary, and a fistful of fresh Parsley. Pulse all that together, then add a swirl of good Olive Oil. and serve with Tortilla chips or Flatbreads. It doesn’t look great – but tastes good.
If you want something a bit heartier – and keeping the North African feel we’ve got going on, you can fill the Aubergine. First, slice and roast the Aubergine as above.
Again, keeping a North African feel going, make a filling by browning some Minced Lamb, a small diced carrot and a small onion, diced, in a large, heavy pan with Olive oil, salt and black pepper. Season with a tbspn of Tomato Puree, Turmeric, a little ginger powder, a little cinnamon, a splash of tabasco, and finally some fresh, chopped mint.
Let it all sit up in the pan, and then add your roasted Aubergine to the meat. Fill the skins back in, grate some hard, piquant cheese like Manchego on top of it, and return to the oven to finally warm through.
It doesn’t look too appetising in the picture, I’ll admit, but there’s a lot of sweet/spicy flavours happening. Beer-wise, a Pale ale of ESB is the ticket – something with body and clout to stand up to the meat.
Fyne Ales’ Vital Spark (4.4%abv) is a good choice; maroon-hued, with a tight, tan head that quickly disappears, it starts out fresh and almost citrus-led on the sip but soon dries out with mocha, black pepper, toasted wholemeal bread and cinder toffee flavours. A complex, satisfying beer, it’s a good foil for the sweet lamb.
I’d also consider Porters and Stouts for experimenting with, to; I can see the smoked notes of those styles going really well with the lamb; something like Marble’s Ginger Stout would be something worth trying, too.