Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Aubergine Purée

Aubergine Purée (a.k.a. Baba Ganoush, Crema de Berenjena, or Paté des Aubergines) is a tasty main or side dish, with lots of possible variations. I've never made it quite the same way twice.

Basic ingredients

2 large aubergines
1 medium courgette
1 small red sweet pepper (or half a large one)
2 cloves of fresh or smoked garlic
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt, pepper
1 tsp papricón (smoked sweet paprika)
fresh herbs (e.g. thyme, lemon thyme, marjoram, basil, coriander, mint)

Halve the the aubergines, add some oil and salt to the exposed flesh and and roast skin- down in a hot oven (c. 220 degrees C) for around 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the courgette and garlic (in its skin).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes to make it easier to handle them. Scoop out all of the baked aubergine flesh and put into a bowl. Mash with a fork. Remove the  skins from the shallot and garlic. Chop the courgette, squeeze the garlic out of its skin, and add to the bowl with the aubergine. Add juice of one lemon, olive oil, papricón, salt and pepper to taste.

Now you do one of the following according to your taste:
  • mash and mix with a fork for a lumpy consistency,
  • blend very lightly for a smoother experience, or
  • blend to a thoroughly smooth paste.
I tend to prefer the medium, light blend version, which takes about 1 second with a hand blender.

Eat warm or cold with pitta bread and salad. It will keep for several days in the fridge.


Possible variations on the basic aubergine paté include adding some combination of the following:
  • roast vegetables: tomato, sweet peppers
  • chick peas for a contrast of textures and more bulk (optionally blend in to make smooth paste)
  • fresh coriander or mint
  • a collection of freshly ground spices to make a very spicy version. I like it with cumin, coriander, dried chilli pepper, caraway, nutmeg, all ground in a pestle and mortar, and with a teaspoon of harissa paste
One option is to make a batch of the basic paté, then take parts of it to add the further ingredients, then serve a selection, e.g. one basic, one with vegetables, chick peas and mint, one with spices and coriander, etc.

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