Aubergine bake (Serves 4)

August 3, 2018

Fried, grilled, smoked, baked, pickled; I just love this curvy purple goddesses of vegetables.  We seem to eat a lot of aubergines back home, its it’s the type of vegetable I could never really get tired of as there are so many different ways it can be used and the flavours are fabulous any which way.  I have been looking at the different ways of using the vegetable, and what combines well with the aubergine.  This recipe was inspired by Anna Jones and I have made additions to the recipe she used in her book.  Don’t let the long list of ingredients put you off, this is truly a lush feed and so easy.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 x large aubergine,

  • 4 x Maris piper potato’s,

  • Sprig of thyme,

  • 450g x steamed spinach leaves (water drained),

  • 150g x cherry tomato’s (around 20),

  • 3 x shallots,

  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar (I used the Jamie Oliver Fig balsamic),

  • 450 ml x skimmed milk,

  • 40g x slightly salted butter,

  • 1 tbsp. mixed peppercorns (I use Barts),

  • 1 x white onion (peeled and halved),

  • Sprig of parsley,

  • 1 x bay leaf,

  • 20g x plain flour,

  • 2 tbsps. of cornflower,

  • Pinch of nutmeg,

  • 3 tbsps. of olive oil, 

  • 3 tbsps. of grated parmesan, 

  • Salt & pepper to taste.

 

Method:

 

  1. Preheat the oven at 200 / gas mark 6,

  2. Preheat a griddle pan, or just a non stick pan and leave on a medium heat,

  3. Cut the cherry tomatoes and place onto a baking tray with a drizzle of oil, seasoning and the balsamic and place to one side,

  4. Wash, and slice the potatoes. I cheated here and used my food processor to do the hard work,

  5. Toss the potatoes into a dish and then mix in the thyme, seasoning and a little oil and make sure each slice is nicely coated,

  6. Arrange the potatoes in a non stick baking dish and place into the oven alongside the cherry tomatoes for 30 minutes making sure they do not burn.  You want the potato slices to starting turning golden, and the tomatoes to soften,

  7. Meanwhile slice the aubergine and place onto the griddle pan.  Not too thick or they won’t cook through and not to thin or they will stick and break on the griddle pan.  The cooking time will really differ, however I generally will cook for around 5 minutes per side so you get the nice sear marks, A tip is to place them in a covered bowl and let the steam soften the aubergine whilst you finish grilling,

  8. In a frying pan, add some oil and fry off the shallots until soft, and then put to one side,

  9. In a milk pan, add the milk alongside the bay leaf, onion, peppercorn and parsley and allow to heat gently. Once the milk is hot (not boiling), allow to rest for 5 minutes so the flavours infuse further,

  10. Remove the potato’s and cherry tomatoes from the oven if 30 mins is up by this stage, 

  11. Pour the milk through a sieve into a measuring jug and set aside,

  12. Melt butter in a pain.  Once melted take off the heat and add the plain flour. Use a whisk or heat resistant spatula and mix vigorously until it has combined and is smooth,

  13. Gently pour a little of the milk in the pan (not too much) and set back onto a low heat.  As you stir slowly add a little more milk.  Make sure you do not stop stirring or it will curdle,

  14. The sauce will start thickening, however if you find after around 5 minutes it still seems too thin, then add the cornflour 1 tablespoon at a time and mix.  You should have the consistency of yogurt by within 10 to 15 minutes of patient stirring,

  15. Turn the oven down to 180 / gas mark 4,

  16. Place the baking tray with the potato on a heat resistant surface and start layering on top of the potato; spinach, cherry tomato, shallots, aubergine and finally the white sauce,

  17. Finish the dish with a sprinkle of parmesan and then place in the oven for around 30 minutes.  You want the top to become golden,

  18. I made this to last us 2 days, so 4 portions.  We ate this in one sitting. We do have healthy appetites. 

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