I mentioned yesterday that I had bought an aubergine, a vegetable/fruit which I absolutely love, but have had a poor history of cooking it myself. Sometimes my problem is basic – I forget about it and it goes mouldy/rotten/spoiled before I get around to thinking about using it. Sometimes I cook something full of expectations and it’s disappointing, not necessarily a disaster, but just not as delicious as I aspire to. However, last night I triumphed! I’m so pleased with myself and my aubergine I suspect I have become quite boring!
I’ll share my recipe first, and then comment what I did right last night, as opposed to what I’ve done in the past which led to disappointment. I haven’t put specific quantities as I didn’t measure, but any dish like this is flexible!:
- aubergine, cut in small cubes
- fresh tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
- green pepper, cut in small pieces
- courgette, cut ins small cubes
- ground pepper (in my pepper mill I have spices as well)
- sea salt (I had some little pots of salt crystals from IKEA of all places, and I used smoked salt and garlic salt (IKEA falksalt, sea salt flakes with Swedish flavours)
- a few grinds of fresh peppercorns and whole spices from a pepper mill
- olive oil
- grated cheese to sprinkle on top when serving
- in separate pans, gently cook the tomatoes and aubergines, adding a little salt to each (I used the smoked salt flakes with the aubergine, and the garlic with the tomatoes)
- If you have a real aversion to tomato skins then pick them out when the toms are cooked
- when the aubergine has softened somewhat, add the green pepper and courgette, and when they have begun to soften add the tomato, scraping round the pan for all the juicy oil/oily juice
- if it seems to be sticking, just add a very small amount of boiling water but it doesn’t want to be soupy
- stir gently to make sure the vegetables aren’t sticking and when you think it’s ready – with the individual vegetables still having shape and not turned to a mush, pour into your serving dish
- sprinkle with cheese and enjoy – maybe with soft flat bread scorched over a flame or under a grill
Honestly it was so delicious and simple – so why do I think it was better than similar things I’ve made before? First of all I didn’t overcook it; in the past, making something like this I would have put it in a slow oven for hours until it virtually disintegrated. I didn’t add any onions, garlic (apart from the garlic salt) or herbs, so the flavours seemed clean and fresh. All the vegetables were cut into small pieces, so each forkful had a variety of different flavours. I didn’t add stock and only a small amount of water which meant it wasn’t sloppy and the flavours weren’t diluted.
It surprised me that all the things I would normally have done – added onions and garlic, added herbs, added chilli, cooked for ages, added stock – I didn’t do. I can’t wait to try it again – and another thing about making this, it was so quick and easy, fifteen minutes at the most!