Liz is an aubergine sceptic so I’ve been thinking about some dishes to win her over. The flavour of this beautiful but diffident vegetable can be elusive, especially when it is served soggy with oil or overwhelmed with rich sauces.
We began with melanzane parmigiana which she pronounced ‘the best ever’. Can you grill some slices of aubergine? Can you make`a simple tomato sauce? Can you oil a mould? Then you can make melanzane parmigiana. Why make it in a mould? First because it looks better when it’s served. Second, because it controls the size of the portion, a vital consideration if you’ve ever been presented with a vast and over rich portion of melanzane oozing with cream and mozzarella. (Yuck.)
The second and third members of the trio are caponata and simply grilled aubergine dressed with balsamic glaze and lovage. The caponata also came in a mould, held together with a light savoury jelly. If you are a vegetarian you could dispense with the jelly by lightly freezing the caponata and unmoulding it while it is still very cold.
When it came to awarding points, the lunch party was divided: Mo preferred the caponata whilst Liz’ favourite was the parmigiana. As for me, I loved them both. Would you serve them all at one sitting? Why not? Three aubergine antipasti - best made together because they use different parts of the vegetable.
You will need 8 metal or foil moulds, ideally 8cm x 5cm and 6 cm tall.
|Grilled with a balsamic glaze and lovage|
3 aubergines – classic purple-black variety
50ml olive oil
for the melanzane parmigiana
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
4 bay leaves
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
50g finely grated parmesan
50g fine breadcrumbs
for the caponata
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, cut into dice
3 sticks of celery, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
|Caponata with grilled aubergine|