Okay, we need to establish a few things here. I know that this vegetable is called Eggplant in many english speaking countries, but I have to agree with Sara B. from My New Roots eggplant simply sounds unappealing, whereas Aubergine seems like an exotic and (for danish people at least) a far more well known name. So for now here at A Tasty Love Story they will be called AUBERGINES.
As mentioned earlier Aubergine is one of my absolute favorite vegetables. It’s a no-go to eat it raw, but as soon as you cook it it becomes this tender, soft and very tasty vegetable. You can bake it, grill it, fry it and even boil it then mash it and fry it (a Philippine traditional dish) and it will end up being wonderful no matter what!
I often bake my aubergines in the oven with some sort of topping, and here you can vary a lot if you feel like it. The other day when my fridge felt kind of empty and I had big time aubergine-cravings, I magically came up with this recipe and I have made it quite a few times since then. For this recipe I used Ajvar which is a Balkan spread/sauce which is primarily made out of aubergines, red peppers, onion and garlic. It is really tasty and spicy and there’s something nice about the thought of adding aubergine on top of aubergine.
You can make ajvar yourself or you can buy some nice alternatives in a jar. I have not yet made Ajvar myself but there are plenty of recipes out there, take this one for example. I promise you I’ll go crazy ajvar-making in the kitchen some day soon and share the results with you, but for now I went with my yummy organic jar alternative. Besides the ajvar I added serrano ham and parmesan along with a few slices of sweet and summer fresh tomatoes, since these are some of my absolute favorite ingredients and always available in my kitchen. On the side I had some homemade bread and garlic & basil oil which fitted perfectly with the italian topping theme (with a twist of balkan autumn, smile).
Oven baked aubergines
4 slices of serrano ham
1,5 cup/4 dl ajvar (can be substituted with a spicy tomato sauce)
a piece of parmesan cheese
4 medium sized tomatoes
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C
2. Cut each aubergine in half lengthwise. Score across the flesh on a 45° angle and then repeat in the other direction to achieve a diamond pattern (this allows the steam to escape). Top each aubergine with ajvar and tomato slices and bake in the oven for 20 min.
3. While aubergines are in the oven make the garlic & basil oil
4. Then remove aubergines from the oven, add a few slices of parmesan cheese and one piece of serrano ham to each aubergine and bake 20 more minutes in the oven, until they look nicely roasted and done.
5. Let the aubergines cool for a few minutes and sprinkle with some garlic & basil oil. Serve with bread and fresh spinach leaves.
Garlic & basil oil
Makes about 0,5 cup
0,5 a cup good olive oil, preferably one with a nutty and mild flavor
A generous handful of fresh basil leaves
2-3 cloves of garlic
Salt & pepper
1. In a food processor or blender, add all ingredients and blend on high until smooth.
2. Adjust taste with salt, pepper and garlic.