Silky Baked Aubergines with Tomato, Basil & Gruyére
This recipe is another that I cooked from Memories with Food at Gipsy House, by Felicity and Roald Dahl (see my review of this wonderful book here). The recipe was contributed by Felicity’s daughter, Neisha Barranco, whose cooking Roald describes as “startling, original and very beautiful”. The aubergine graphic below is also from the book, one of a number of charming ingredient images that pepper the book (see more here).
I particularly wanted to share this delectable dish with you because it is one I have enjoyed many times before. I was first introduced to it a few years ago by my friend Thomas who cooked it for me when we lived together in Copenhagen. I still remember his excitement, telling me “I cannot believe that this few ingredients can taste this good”. It is a phrase I find myself uttering often now when discussing aubergines.
I usually make it with regular boring aubergines available in any old supermarket, but this time I had Tooting and its wonderful Asian supermarkets at my disposal, so I opted for these cute alternatives.
The original recipe called for frying the aubergine slices in quite a lot of oil, but I think the dish is just as lovely if you either bake the aubergine slices or sear them in a pan with a light film of oil (as I have directed in the recipe). I also think you could significantly increase the amount of aubergine and still use the same amount of cheese in the recipe if you prefer a slightly lighter meal, but I’ll leave that up to you. If you would like to make this dish vegan, I suggest that you omit the cheese and increase the flavourings in the tomato sauce – with more garlic and basil, the aubergines will still be a delight.
Neisha’s recipe also suggests that you simmer the basil in the sauce for 45 minutes, but I really think that this kills the fresh, bright, zingy flavour, so I have altered the recipe accordingly.
As it is, the aubergines are silky and tender, the tomato sauce tangy, the cheese rich and moreish, with the fresh basil lifting and brightening the whole dish. Although not listed in this recipe – and certainly not necessary for a fabulously flavourful, healthy, vegetable-packed meal – you can add cream to the tomato sauce and it will be even more amazing. Yum yum.
Please click to see the formatted, printable recipe on Ramsons & Bramble