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Aubergine bake with spinach and basil sauce

Here’s another one of my forays into cooking aubergine with very little or no oil. It worked wonderfully in this chinese style recipe and I wanted to try a different method for an Italian inspired layered dish.

Baking the sliced aubergine weighted down with a heavy dish before assembling the bake worked really well, the aubergine was beautifully soft with no oil used at all!

I’ve simply layered it with cherry tomatoes, and a quick sauce made with soy milk, spinach and basil.

I was intending to eat it with salad and make it last two meals, but in the end it was so delicious I just ate the lot on its own…

Aubergine bake with spinach and basil sauce

Aubergine bake with spinach and basil sauce

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Chilli aubergine

I was flicking through my copy of Sichuan Cookery by Fuchsia Dunlop looking for inspiration for an aubergine dish when I came across the dry frying method for cooking the cubed vegetable. I was a little sceptical about whether it would work seeing as a lot of aubergine recipes which state such a short cooking time, in my experience, really don’t work! But this one does, I’ve upped the cooking time from the 5 minutes in the book to 7 minutes, but if you cut your aubergine evenly enough 5 would do.

I’m a big fan of Fuchsia Dunlop’ s books on Chinese cookery, they aren’t vegan books by any means, but they are full of interesting flavours and techniques, and there are plenty of vegetable and tofu recipes in there, which if not vegan to start with, are easily adaptable.

So this recipe is inspired by the flavours of the Sichuan province, and although capers are definitely not a usual Chinese ingredient, I’m using them in place of Sichuan preserved vegetables which have a similar salty, tangy flavour.

If you don’t have chilli bean sauce (which is made from fermented broad beans and chillies), then a spoonful of miso and some chilli sauce would give a similar layer of flavour.

Chilli aubergine, so so tasty!

Chilli aubergine, so so tasty!

makes 2 servings

1 aubergine, cubed

1 onion, sliced

1 tomato, chopped

4 mushrooms, thinly sliced

1/2 a red chilli, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 tbsp grated ginger

1 tsp capers

1 tbsp Chinese rice wine

1 tbsp chiankang vinegar (or balsamic)

1 tbsp chilli bean sauce (see above for a substitution)

1 tbsp light soy sauce or tamari

1/4 tsp white pepper

50 ml water

1/4 tsp roasted ground Sichuan pepper

2 spring onions, sliced

1 tbsp coriander, chopped

2 tsps oil

First cook the aubergine. Heat a wok on a high heat and drizzle a tiny amount of the oil in. Stir fry the aubergine for 5 minutes, keeping it moving all the time. It should be softened, browned and juicy.

Remove the aubergine from the wok and lower the heat to medium. Add the rest of the oil and the onions, and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Put the aubergine back in the pan and add the mushrooms, chilli, garlic, ginger and capers and sizzle it all together for a couple of minutes.

Next add the tomato, rice wine, chiankang vinegar, chilli bean sauce, soy sauce, water and white pepper. Bring to a simmer and bubble for 3 minutes. Sprinkle the szechuan pepper, spring onions and coriander over the top to serve.

I ate mine with noodles, but rice would be great too.

By E.