For anyone and everyone that has problems cooking aubergine (eggplant) I have a tip for you that ensures even cooking and prevents any of the following….. a) it being undercooked and dry on the outside, b) its tendency to seep oil like a sponge, c) the possibility of it taking on the texture of a rubber slipper.
This simple process/ tip is called salting.
Its literally as simple as taken the chopped cubes, slices or halves of the aubergine (depending on the recipe) and coating them liberally in sea salt. This helps draw out the excess water, allows it to cook more evenly and take on a better taste and texture. For the process to work effectively I recommend leaving the salted aubergine for at least an hour to sweat (sexy I know) before drying the excess water and salt off, on a tea towel. Then the aubergine is ready to be lightly coated in oil and spices, before being roasted until tender and burnished brown.
I like to serve this dish as a salad with roasted chicken, or at a summer barbecue. It has more than enough flavour to stand alone, but equally makes a good addition to a buffet style set up.
Roasted Cauliflower and Aubergine with Turmeric Yoghurt
Serves 4, as a side
- 2 aubergine/ eggplants, chopped into 3 inch chunks
- 1 large head cauliflower, broken into small florets
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon baharat / middle eastern spice mix
- fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- a small handful of parsley leaves, torn
- 2 tablespoons zaatar
- 60ml/ 1/4 cup plain yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove grated garlic
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Place the chopped aubergine in a large bowl with 1 heaped teaspoon of fine sea salt and toss to combine. Set aside for the aubergine to sweat for 1-2 hours
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F
Combine the olive oil, toasted sesame oil, cumin seeds, ground coriander, baharat spice mix, half a teaspoon of fine sea salt and a generous grinding of freshly ground black pepper at the bottom of another large bowl.
Remove the aubergine from its bowl, place on top of a tea towel and pat until dry. Place the broken apart florets of cauliflower and dried aubergine in the large bowl, on top of the oil and spice mixture, and toss to combine. Turn the mixture out onto a large baking tray – don’t crowd the veg – and place in the oven to roast for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through cooking.
Whilst the aubergine and cauli are cooking make the yoghurt dressing by combining the yoghurt, grated garlic, lemon juice, turmeric and ground coriander in a glass. Season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Add a dash of water if you have a thicker yoghurt and taste. It should be tangy, with a thick but pourable texture.
Once the aubergine and cauliflower are cooked and slightly burnished from the oven, remove them from their baking tray and place in a bowl with a handful of parsley leaves. To finish off the dish, dollop over the turmeric yoghurt and finally scatter over some of the zataar. Enjoy warm