Godly greens: My grilled and baked aubergines with yoghurt sauce.
Summer is here and with it it brings flavours and aromas I’ve never seen. My time in Lisbon was quite eventful in many, many regards – but after all this excitement, I long for something more comforting. For me a great deal of comfort lies in textures. It is soft and succulent food that makes me feel good and at ease. On a warm summerday I can’t be really bothered with anything high in carbohydrates or effort. My grilled and baked aubergines with yoghurt sauce are just perfect for these occasions. They are first grilled on a griddle pan, for a few minutes and then transferred to a hot oven, which does all the work really. Served with a beautifully refreshing yoghurt sauce, that has mint and raisins in it, the soft and creamy flesh of the eggplant has the potential to become one of my summer staples. And hopefully one of yours too. Have a go at this great summer dish and treat yourself to some effortless comfort.
Aubergine, or eggplant, is a slightly awkward vegetable. It is perfectly inedible when consumed raw and often ends up as an unappitizing distinctively greyish mush, that oozes out oil, when cooked. I have never been really fond of it. Which is why it has, until recently, not received much of my attention. But after listening to the tales and stories about the greatness of turkish aubergine dishes of a friend and dear ex-flatmate, I decided to give it another go. And from what I have heard and read, grilling is how you start slow with eating aubergines. The premise is fairly simple: by grilling the aubergine, you add some smokiness to the flesh and the subsequent baking, aided by a bit of olive oil, will help to make it all tender. Aubergine has a tendency to absorb oil, the more you add, the more it will absorb and, if you cook it for too long or under too much heat, the more it will ooze out at the end. Thus, when cooking the aubergine, I try to make sure to use merely a good glug (which usually translates to a few (maybe 4 or so) table spoons) of oil.
I realize that the picture doesn’t really convey all the tastiness of this dish. I am still haunted by technical issues but, as they say, the show must go on. While the pictured aubergine might seem a tad bit too scorched to be healthy, it really didn’t look all that bad. The beauty of this dish lies in the way each component accompanies and stresses, rather than contrasts the others. The succulence and softness of the flesh is accentuated beautifully by the creaminess of the yoghurt. The sweetness of the raisins stresses the crisp caramelized skin the aubergine has been baked on. Notes of lemon highlight the subtle smokiness of the scorched flesh. While mint aides both the freshness of the yoghurt as well as the lightness of the aubergine. My grilled and baked aubergines with yoghurt sauce are a summer dish much to my liking, fast, easy and effortless.
My grilled and baked aubergines with yoghurt sauce.
Aubergine Garlic Olive oil Salt Lemon Mint (or coriander or a tad bit of parsley, or anything else you might fancy) Raisins Yoghurt (I prefer greek, but any will do)
Half the aubergine. Heat up a griddle pan, til it is smoking hot. Rub the aubergine, cut-side down, in some olive oil, scatter some salt over the cut-side and press the flesh on to the pan. This step will add some extra smokiness but is by no means necessary, so if you don’t have a griddle pan or bbq, don’t worry.
Add a glug of olive oil to a baking tray. Crush a few cloves of garlic, about 3 for half an aubergine, and give them into the tray. Cutside down, place the scorched aubergines into the tray and bake at about 200°C for roughly 20 minutes. It’s done when a knife easily pierces the aubergine.
In the mean-time, spoon some yoghurt (I like the more creamy greek type of yoghurt for this, but any will do. Experiment with the varieties to find the contrast you like best.) into a bowl. Chop some fresh herbs (I like mint for this, but only had coriander available, which is nice too. Just try your way around it a bit) and stir in, do the same with a handful of raisins to bring some extra sweetness to the dish. Squeeze in some lemon juice and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. You might need to add a spoon or so of water, to create a more runny sauce, but that’s up to you.
Serve the aubergine as a nice, and surprisingly light, starter with some of the sauce spooned over. Or with rice or bread as a main dish.
Most importantly, enjoy!