I’m not one for small things. My shoes, my bags, my hair: everything is super-sized. My food even more so than my fashion. However, the idea of a baby aubergine worked for me. Not only does their diminutive size mean that their cooking time is equally minute, but it also means that there is less bitterness and therefore no need to salt or soak. And they also look pretty sweet I guess.
I stayed classic with the flavours here: mozzarella, basil and tomatoes provide the stuffing for the purple fruits. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
This could be served as a lovely little starter, or it could be beefed up to a main. I did the latter, and served mine with some extra tomatoes, chilli and garlic pan-fried broccoli, homemade basil pesto and some roasted new potatoes. It was absolutely delightful.
INGREDIENTS (serves 2):
6 baby aubergines
Ball of veggie mozzarella
6-10 fresh basil leaves
100g small, flavoursome tomatoes (or, if pushed for time, a jar of sun-dried tomatoes)
Dried mixed herbs
Salt and pepper
If using fresh tomatoes, start by slicing these in half, lightly drizzling them with olive oil (until just glistening), sprinkling them with salt, pepper and dried mixed herbs. Place them in the oven at around 110C, gas 1/2, for about 2 hours, until soft and sweet.
Preheat the oven to 200C, gas 6
On to the aubergines. Leaving the green top in tact, cut two deep slits from base the tip, which will leave you with 3, still attached, fingers. Place one or two tomatoes and a basil leaf in one of the cavities you have created; pull a bit of mozzarella from the ball and stuff that into the other cavity.
Brush the now stuffed aubergines with olive oil, and place on a baking tray. Cook for around 25 minutes, turning once in the middle, until the aubergines are soft and the cheese is melted.
Last week my parents came to visit, meaning that rather than cooking, I have been dining out a lot. And I mean a lot. One of my favourite things to do in such situations (alongside guzzling Gavi and cracking on with carbs) is ‘steal’ an item from the menu; I take a description of a dish and go back to my kitchen and try to create something which would suit. This recipe is my take on a starter served at Little Italy in Soho.
If I carry on like this, you also have reproductions of these little beauties from The Salt Yard to look forward to as well:
You lucky buggers.