Blackened Aubergine with Beetroot and Walnuts

After a trip to Italy, I have a renewed love of aubergine/ eggplant all over again. Slow roasted and layered in parmigiana, it has such a great array of uses, but my favourite way to cook it, is this 15 minute stove to table option.

This recipe is the ultimate side dish to anything from grilled chicken, to bbq meat, even pasta. Its also made in half the time – if you make the beetroot dip with pre-cooked beets (for the puree)…. The flavour is less intense, and if you have time I recommend roasting them whole yourself, but I have popped the method for both below anyway.

Blackened Aubergine with Beetroot and Walnuts

The only thing that is essential for this, is a gas hob. If you don’t have one, you can improvise – either use an oven pre-heated to the highest setting or try a bbq instead.

Serves 2

  • 2 large aubergine
  • 100g walnuts
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 20g cooked white beans
  • 250g whole beetroot, unpeeled / or pre-cooked beetroot
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil, to finish
  • greek yoghurt, to finish

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C

Wrap each individual beetroot in foil. Place the wrapped beets on a baking tray to catch any drips, then place in the oven to roast for 50 to 60 minutes, or until soft all the way through.*

Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small frying pan over a medium flame for 1 minute whilst you wait, then place the spices in a blender or pestle and mortar, and bash or blitz to break down a little – you want them smaller than whole seeds but don’t worry if they aren’t a fine powder. Remove 2 teaspoons of the spice mixture and place in a small ramekin. Add 2 teaspoons fine sea salt and mix, then set aside

Place the two aubergines on a low/medium gas hob and leave for 3-4 minutes, carefully turn it a quarter of a turn and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Repeat the process again until all the sides have had time over the hob and are nice and charred.

Using a knife, pierce the aubergine, to ensure the vegetable is cooked all the way through,then split both in half and sprinkle with the spiced salt.

Place the walnuts on a baking tray and roast for the final 10 minutes of the beetroot cooking time to lightly toast. If cooking beets from scratch – once they are cooked, peel off the skin and add to a blender, otherwise if using bought/cooked ones – remove the  from a packet and add to a blender.  Add half of the walnuts, the white beans, lemon, remaining spices, tahini, garlic and season well with salt and pepper. Blend into a smooth puree and season to taste, adding more lemon if needed.

To serve, dollop the beetroot puree over the hot, charred aubergine, finish with some yoghurt, extra spiced salt, the walnuts and a final drizzle of olive oil. Serve hot

 

*You can miss out this step if using pre-cooked beets.

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