Tag: aubergine

Grilled Aubergine Rolls filled with Ricotta and Basil

Aubergine Rolls with Ricotta, Balsamico Vinegar + Basil

Imagine creamy, milky ricotta enhanced with sweet and thick Balsamico vinegar, some fresh basil leaves stirred in and all this spread on grilled slices of aubergine, and you’ll have a combination so smooth and velvety that it melts in your mouth! This to me is an absolute perfect match, maybe my favourite way to enjoy aubergine.

I like to make this as a starter for a dinner party, it’s easy to prepare and my guests always love it, or as a luscious in between nibble. What’s even better is to roll them for a relaxed dinner on a warm evening, with windows wide open, some ciabatta bread on the table and wine, cheese, thin slices of prosciutto or Mortadella di Bologna. I love it, it feels like a little holiday, for only a few hours but with the same effect as being in a restaurant in Italy. That’s what I love about food, it’s like music, it can put you in a different time, place and mood and it’s all in your hands!

Aubergine Rolls with Ricotta, Balsamico Vinegar + Basil

Grilled Aubergine Rolls filled with Ricotta, Balsamico Vinegar and Basil

As a starter for 4 you need

big aubergines, cut into 1/2cm / 1/4″ slices, 2
olive oil to brush the slices of aubergine, around 75ml, maybe more depending on the size of the aubergines
fresh ricotta 140g / 5 ounces
heavy cream 2 tablespoons
Balsamico vinegar 2 tablespoons or more to taste
fresh basil leaves, cut into strips, around 10 or more to taste
salt and black pepper

Set your oven to grill.

Brush the aubergines with olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Grill in the oven until golden brown and soft on both sides, they will darken partly but that’s fine. Mine needed 7 minutes on one side and 5 minutes on the other but that depends on the oven. Set the aubergines aside and stack them, that will keep them moist and soft.

Whisk the ricotta, cream and Balsamico vinegar, season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the basil. Spread a teaspoon of the ricotta cream on top of each slice of aubergine and roll lengthwise.

Aubergine Rolls with Ricotta, Balsamico Vinegar + Basil

 

Aubergine Rolls with Ricotta, Balsamico Vinegar + Basil

 

Aubergine Rolls with Ricotta, Balsamico Vinegar + Basil

Sabih – A Sandwich with Hummus, Egg and Grilled Aubergine

Sabih

The last time I ate Hummus at a restaurant I decided that the time has come to make my own. It’s one of my favourites from the Middle Eastern cuisine and you can be sure that I always order my own little bowl of this delicious spread when we go to a restaurant to make sure that I definitely have enough for myself.

I’m an expert when it comes to eating it but not preparing it and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself so I decided to ask two experts, both very good friends of mine from Israel. They recommended using really good quality Tahini from Lebanon because this sesame paste has a big influence on the Hummus’ taste. It’s one of the main ingredients together with cooked chickpeas and this is actually where Hummus gets its name from, meaning chickpeas in Arabic. It’s very easy to prepare if you use tinned chickpeas – that’s what I did and the expert opinions didn’t object – you just have to peel them which only takes 5 minutes. It’s more like popping them out of their peel between two fingers, it’s fun! Then you add the Tahini, fresh lemon juice, garlic, salt, water, mix everything in a blender and your Hummus is done.

My friends also told me about a sandwich which is very popular in Israel – Sabih (meaning the handsome one!). You spread Hummus on some good white bread (I use my olive bread which fits really well with its juicy texture and flavours of green and black olives), then you put slices of grilled aubergine and boiled egg on the Hummus and sprinkle some Harissa on top. This is too good! I’m not normally the first one to put an egg on a sandwich, but here I make an exception. The creamy Hummus, the juicy bread, the aubergine, the egg, the whole combination is just divine, I’m not surprised this sandwich is so popular!

Sabih

 Sabih with Hummus, Grilled Aubergine and Boiled Egg

I made enough Hummus to fill a large bowl as you can keep it in the fridge for a few days. For the sandwich you can also use white flatbread but I must say that I really enjoyed it with my thick and juicy olive bread.

For the Hummus

canned chickpeas, cooked and peeled, 475g / 17 ounces
Tahini 300g / 10.5 ounces
garlic, crushed, 2 big cloves
salt 1 1/4 teaspoon
freshly squeezed lemon juice 5 tablespoons
water 100-125ml
olive oil for topping
Harissa for topping

Purée all the ingredients in a blender until you have a smooth paste, you can add a little more water and lemon juice if you want the Hummus less thick. Fill in a bowl and sprinkle with olive oil and Harissa.

 

For the grilled aubergine

one aubergine, cut into 7mm / 1/4″ slices
olive oil to brush the aubergine slices (around 50ml)
salt and pepper

Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill in the oven until golden brown and soft.

 

For the sandwich

white bread, 4-6 thick slices
boiled organic eggs, cut into slices, 2

Spread the Hummus on a slice of bread, put 1-2 slices of the grilled aubergine and some of the egg on top and sprinkle with a little Harissa to add more spiciness. Close with a second slice of bread to finish your sandwich.

Sabih

 

Sabih

The last spaghetti (in 2013)

Spaghetti with Aubergine + Oregano

The last day of the year always gives me a funny feeling, an emotional mixture of memories, feelings – and excitement for what the future will bring.

I need some pasta to relax.

Tonight, we are invited to dinner, we will have cheese fondue. I don’t want to eat too much for lunch before this cheese feast but I have some grilled aubergine left from our Sunday pizza. Golden brown and soft, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano, crushed garlic, salt and pepper – I just cut them in bite sized pieces. I throw some spaghetti in boiling water, when they are done, mix them with the aubergine, a bit of olive oil, some more dried oregano and crushed pepper and sea salt – from Mr. Cini’s salt pans in Gozo. You can sprinkle some Parmesan on top if you like. A simple meal to relax in the last hours of 2013!

Spaghetti with Aubergine + Oregano

 

Spaghetti with Aubergine + Oregano

My Sunday Pizza Tradition

Pizza Aubergine + Pecorin

Another tradition of mine – I always bake pizza on Sundays, always. My friends joke about my unwavering dedication (I barely break this tradition) but to me pizza is the ultimate cosy mood food. Nothing beats an evening on my sofa with a nice big piece of pizza in my hands and a good movie. It’s the perfect preparation for a smooth transition into a new week. So why change it.  The only variation is what’s on top which depends on the season, my appetite and spontaneous inspiration. So far, my Sunday tradition has never seemed boring.

For today, my pizza gets a topping with aubergine slices (grilled with garlic and oregano oil), Pecorino slices and one part with ricotta. A very concentrated tomato sauce with lots of oregano and slices of organic Mozzarella go with it, that’s all it needs. I make the pizza dough with olive oil which makes it richer and very tasty. A very easy recipe, it takes its time to rise but it’s worth it. Nothing beats homemade pizza dough! It makes such a big difference to the taste – and kneading the dough with your own hands is great stress relief!

For years I made my pizza base the same way. First I let it rise in a bowl and then, a second time, on a baking sheet before I put the topping on. This summer I got a great tip from a friend of mine from Switzerland. He told me to put the baking sheet for the pizza on the bottom of the oven while the oven is heating up. As soon as the baking sheet is hot you take it out of the oven and flip it over. You take the well risen pizza dough (which has been rolled out) and place it on the hot baking sheet. The dough will start to rise and bake straight away which makes an amazing crust – like pizza stone. Once the topping is on, bake it in the oven for a few minutes and you will get the crispiest pizza you can imagine!

Pizza Aubergine + Pecorin

Pizza with Aubergine and Pecorino

I start to prepare the dough 2 hours before I bake it to give it enough time to rise.

For 1 big pizza (size of 1 baking sheet) you need

For the dough

plain flour 350g / 12.5 ounces plus more for mixing
dry yeast 1 package for 500g / 1 pound of flour
water, lukewarm,  190ml
olive oil 3 tablespoons
salt 1 teaspoon

Combine the flour with the yeast and salt, add the olive oil and the lukewarm water, slowly, not all at once (you might not need all of it). Mix with your dough hooks for a few minutes. The dough shouldn’t be moist and sticky at all, more on the dry side. Continue kneading and punching with your hands until you have an elastic dough ball, not too hard, not sticky. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover it with a tea towel and let it rise in the warm oven (35°C / 95°F) for 40 minutes. This works really well but make sure that your oven is set to top/ bottom heat and not to fan.

When the dough is well risen, roll it out on a very well floured (this is very important!) working surface. It should be a bit smaller than the size of your baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let it rise for another 10-15 minutes

For the tomato sauce

tinned tomatoes 400g / 14 ounces
oregano, dried or fresh, 1 tablespoon plus more for topping
salt (1 teaspoon) and pepper

Mix the ingredients in a small sauce pan, chop the tomatoes and let everything cook down until very concentrated and thick. If you leave the sauce too liquid it will be soaked up by your pizza base.

For the topping

I prepared the grilled aubergine a day before. You can keep it in the fridge for days and use it for other recipes as well, or enjoy it as antipasti.

aubergine, cut in thick slices, 1
garlic, crushed, 1 clove
olive oil to brush the aubergine and to drizzle on top of the pizza
salt and pepper
Pecorino cheese, cut in thin slices, 100g / 3.5 ounces
mozzarella, cut in cubes, 125g / 4.5 ounces
ricotta, 100g / 3.5 ounces
(I sprinkled just 1/4 of the pizza with ricotta)

Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil, sprinkle with oregano and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Grill in the oven until golden brown and soft and cut in long strips.

The pizza

Set your oven to 260°C / 500°F. My oven has a special pizza setting but you can use top / bottom heat as well. Put the baking sheet on the bottom of your oven to heat it.

Take the hot baking sheet out of the oven, flip it over and place it carefully on two stable wooden boards or mats as it will be very hot. Place your risen dough carefully but quickly (best done by two people) on the baking sheet, push it gently into place if necessary. Spread the tomato sauce on top and sprinkle with oregano, continue with the aubergine, Pecorino, mozzarella and ricotta. Put the baking sheet back into the oven, on the bottom again, and bake for a few minutes until the pizza is golden brown, bubbling and crisp!

Pizza Aubergine + Pecorin

 

Pizza Aubergine + Pecorino