COOKBOOK CHALLENGE: nigel slater's aubergine and chickpeas

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

My brother gave me Nigel Slater's little box, Eat, for Christmas. I've flicked through a couple of times and love the simplicity of it, with humble recipes such as gratin of kale and almonds, cucumber fennel and ricotta salad and basil prawns. No '15 minute meals' claims here, just good, honest meals that take little time to prepare and, using a limited number of ingredients, also fit just fine into my 'frugal recipes' category. I made aubergine and chickpeas on a cold Monday, when my boyfriend and I both had the day off, and it was satisfying and lovely and warming. I broke my Cookbook Challenge rules a little and improvised part of the recipe, plus we didn't have any garlic and it was tipping it down outside so we made do without.

Slice a large aubergine into thick rounds and place them in a single layer in a grill pan or on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, scatter with a tablespoon of chopped rosemary needles, salt, black pepper and 2 cloves of finely crushed garlic. Cook under an overhead grill, adding a little more oil as necessary, for 10 minutes or so, until the aubergine is golden brown and tender. Turn each piece and allow to brown lightly on the other side. 

Drain a 400g can of chickpeas and warm half the contents in a small pan with a little olive oil, salt and some black pepper. Blitz in a blender or food processor with half the grilled aubergine to give a soft, quite smooth puree. Fry the reserved chickpeas for a few minutes in a little oil in a pan tip hot, then stir, whole, into the puree. Correct the seasoning then serve with the warm, grilled aubergine and some torn sesame bread.

My puree came out a bit dry, so I expect I didn't use enough olive oil, but when it comes to aubergines and oil, one can ask 'how long is a piece of string?' Obviously they taste best doused in the stuff, but in the interest of waistlines, I was a little reserved. I also fried the remaining chickpeas in a little cumin and actually cooked them until they were quite brown and starting to stick to the pan, which gave a really nice, smokey taste. I served it with kale, because I bloody love the stuff.

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