Friday, 15 February 2013

Ottolenghi's Aubergine with Buttermilk Sauce [and a Paleo Review]

Dear Readers, I have a confession to make.  Last Saturday I was set out for a One Week Paleo Challenge, where I eat nothing but vegetables, meat, fish, fruit and nuts.   Well, I couldn't do it.  I stopped after five days.  I had oats yesterday for breakfast.  It was Valentine's Day, I was alone, I had the right to eat whatever the hell I wanted for breakfast, and if it was oatmeal that I wanted, despite what the cavemen were able to discover in their times, I was going to get my oatmeal.

Joking aside, the Paleo challenge sucked.  Not only did I feel lethargic and hungry all the time, I actually gained weight.  1.5kg from all the nuts and dried fruits and sweet potatoes I ate, I presume.  Furthermore, it emptied out my wallet. Meat and vegetables are expensive.  So altogether, it was a horrible diet.  Don't do it.  Don't do it, I've sacrificed my own health and bank account to be able to tell all of you that the Paleo Diet sucks.

So back to the world where dairy is regularly consumed.  Here is a simple yet popular aubergine recipe.  By popular I mean I brought it to a potluck and it was consumed very quickly.  Again, thank you, Jess, for the Ottelenghi cookbook :D

Recipe from Plenty
Serves 4 as a starter
2 large and long aubergines
80ml olive oil
1 1/2 tsp lemon thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs to garnish (I used rosemary)
1 pomegranate
1 tsp za'atar
salt and pepper

140ml buttermilk (if you don't have any, just do 120ml of milk plus 1 tbsp of of lemon juice and let sit for 10 minutes before using in the recipe)
100g Greek yoghurt
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle to finish
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 200C

Cut the aubergines in half wavelengths, cutting straight through the green stalk.  Use a small sharp knife to make 3 or 4 parallel incisions in the cut side of each aubergine half, without cutting through to the skin.  Repeat at a 45 degree angle to get a diamond shape pattern.

Place the aubergine halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.  Brush them with olive oil and keep on brushing until all of the oil has been absorbed by the flesh.  Sprinkle with thyme leaves and some salt and pepper.  Roast for 35-40 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft and nicely browned.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Cut the pomegranate into two horizontally.  Hold the half over a bowl, with the cut side against your palm, anduse the back of a wooden spoon or a rolling pin to gently knock on the pomegranate skin.  Continue beating with increasing power until the seeds come out naturally through your fingers into the bowl. 

For the sauce, just whisk together all the ingredients.  Taste for seasoning, then keep cold until needed

To serve, spoon buttermilk sauce over the aubergine halves, sprinkle za'atar and plenty of pomegranate seeds on top and garnish with thyme.  Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

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