For most people, lockdown has led to an obsession with food. What should we cook for dinner? Which restaurants have started doing takeaway again? More time on our hands means more time spent in the kitchen, and Instagram has become fertile ground for freshly baked loaves of sourdough and banana bread.
If you’re looking to cook something new but can’t get your hands on that ever-elusive flour, there’s a great range of vegetables that have just come into season. Now couldn’t be a better time to start eating in line with the harvest.
The benefits of eating seasonally are many. Perhaps one of the most important reasons is that seasonal foods are grown in the UK, which reduces the distance that the produce has to travel from farm to shop. Reducing your carbon footprint by eating seasonal fruit and vegetables is both incredibly easy and delicious. As the food travels less, it also requires fewer preservatives to stay fresh while it is journeying to the supermarket.
As seasonal produce is harvested at its peak, it retains its full nutrient and vitamin content, meaning it is good for the environment and good for your health. As aubergines have just come into season and are such a delicious, meaty and versatile vegetarian’s dream, here are some easy recipes to get you started.
As an added bonus, aubergines –along with lots of other fruit and vegetables, of course – carry an array of important nutrients and minerals: vitamins B1, B6 and potassium and minerals copper, magnesium and manganese. They are a good source of fibre – 2.7g per 100g – while also low in calories; in other words, you can definitely eat as much of these purple wonders as you like.
Fun fact: did you know that aubergines aren’t always purple? They can also come in jade green, orange and yellow colours.
1. Baba ganoush
- 3 medium aubergines
- Olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- ½ teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 lemons
- extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.
- On a chopping board, cut the aubergines in half lengthways.
- Score the flesh in a crisscross pattern, making sure you don’t cut through the skins.
- Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, then toss to coat.
- Arrange on a baking tray, flesh-side facing up, then bake in the oven for around 45 minutes, or until soft.
- Using oven gloves, remove the aubergine from the oven, then leave aside to cool.
- Peel and roughly chop the garlic, then place in a food processor.
- Add the tahini, chilli powder (if using), cumin, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and the aubergine, discarding the skin.
- Cut the lemons in half. Squeeze in the juice, using your fingers to catch any pips.
- Secure the lid and blitz to a nice thick dip.
- Have a taste and add a tiny pinch of salt and pepper if you think you think it needs it.
- Transfer to a bowl to serve.
2. Roast aubergines with yoghurt and harissa
- 4 aubergines
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 75g butter
- 1tbsp harissa
- 6tbsp Greek yoghurt
- 1 small garlic clove, crushed
- 1tbsp chopped coriander
- 1tsp sesame seeds
- Heat the oven to 200C/190C fan/gas 6.
- Pierce the aubergines a few times with the tip of a knife, then brush with olive oil and put them on a baking sheet.
- Roast for about 40-45 mins, or until the aubergines are completely tender.
- Melt the butter in a pan, then stir through the harissa.
- Cut the aubergines in half, opening them up a bit like a baked potato.
- Put them on a warm platter and season the inside of each one.
- Mix the yoghurt with the garlic and spoon some of the mixture into each aubergine.
- Drizzle over the spiced butter, then scatter over the coriander and sesame seeds to serve.
3. Healthy aubergine parmigiana
- 2 aubergines sliced into 1/2cm-thick slices lengthways
- Spray oil
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
- 2 x 125g mozzarella balls, thinly sliced
- Large bunch of basil
- 75g parmesan (or veggie alternative) or other Italian hard cheese, finely grated
- Salad to serve
- Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
- Put the aubergine slices onto baking paper-lined trays and spray with a little oil.
- Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, flipping halfway until softened and crisping at the edges.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic for 10 minutes until soft.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, season and simmer for 20 minutes.
- In a roughly 20cm x 30cm baking dish, layer up the aubergine and sauce, adding a layer of half of the mozzarella, basil, and parmesan roughly half-way through.
- Layer up the remaining aubergine and sauce, and finish with a final layer of mozzarella, basil and parmesan.
- Put into the oven for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve with a salad.