I guess I was wrong. Last month, when I mentioned that eggplants/aubergines were at the end of their season here, I clearly didn’t know what I was talking about. The lovely purple veg are still appearing at the market weekly, and if anything there seems to be more of them than ever before. Silly me, I assumed that something in the “summer squash” family would cease to be available once it wasn’t summer any longer. But apparently, no amount of morning frost or chilly rain is getting rid of these.
Which means that I’m forced to come up with more ways of using them. And I must say that’s been tricky lately, as I’ve been juggling school and visitors and a late-Autumn creative funk. I don’t know, maybe it’s just that my creativity is being used elsewhere these days (care to talk wall tiles and wood finishes, anyone?), but I can’t seem to come up with anything interesting and new. At least that’s the case where excess vegetables are concerned; for some reason, excess cheese and pasta don’t seem to produce the same problem.
Taking a page from Dana’s book, I picked up my copy of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty the other day, in search of some inspiration. I knew it would yield something good- after all, the restaurant itself never fails to impress (I ate there last week with my Mum; divine as usual). Within seconds of flipping to the chapter entitled “The Mighty Aubergine”, I found what I was looking for: a recipe for Aubergine Tricolore, a witty take on bruschette that uses actual grilled eggplant slices as the “bread”.
If this is sounding familiar to you, it’s probably because I posted a nearly identical recipe several months ago. Eggplant, cherry tomatoes and basil, served as bruschette. Yes, this version also has mozzarella, capers and anchovies, and yes, it also does away with the bread, but I realised (as I was tucking into these for lunch) that they’re really shamefully similar.
Still, if you try these bruschette, which make a great snack or starter, I bet anything you’ll forgive me. In fact, you’ll probably run out to stock up on eggplant, so let’s hope there’s a glut of them where you are, too.
- Tricolore Eggplant Bruschetta
- adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
- serves 2
- 1 medium-large eggplant
1 tsp. table salt
2 tsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
10 cherry tomatoes
8 bocconcini, or small mozzarella balls
1 tsp. baby capers,
1 anchovy fillet, very finely chopped
15-20 basil leaves, roughly torn
sea salt and black pepper
- 1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 4 slices, about 1.5cm thick each. Generously sprinkle both sides of eggplant slices with the table salt, and place in a colander or sieve to sweat for 15-20 minutes.
2. When the oven is hot and the eggplant has been sweating for at least 15 minutes, rinse the slices in cold water and dry well with paper towels. Coat lightly with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, and roast for about 20 minutes, until crispy and golden at the edges. Flip slices halfway through cooking time. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, or just barely warm.
3. Meanwhile, quarter the tomatoes and mozzarella balls and place into a small bowl. Add the anchovy, capers and basil leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil and mix well.
4. When you’re ready to serve the bruschette, pile the filling atop each eggplant slice carefully. Drizzle with a little more olive oil if you like, and eat with a knife and fork.