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We’re taking a cruise around the Mediterranean with a host of mouth-watering aubergine-based dishes. Originating in southern and eastern Asia, aubergines came to Europe via the Middle East and now make up many staple dishes. Our recipes take in Italy with Sicilian seafood, before moving on to stuffed Greek and Turkish recipes and finishing with a Lebanese dip. Sit back and enjoy!
1. Sicilian swordfish with caponata
A rich side dish with light, fresh fish for a real taste of summer – what could be better?
2 sticks celery
1 small onion
1 tsp capers
10 green olives, stoned
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tin tomatoes
Olive oil for frying
400g swordfish steaks
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano or 1 tbsp dried
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat olive oil in a frying pan, then add the aubergines, cut into chunks. Stir to brown them all over.
- Add the finely chopped celery and onion, frying until soft. Then add the capers and olives, the vinegar and the tomatoes, stirring well.
- Cover and cook until tender for around 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, get the grill very hot. Season the swordfish steaks with salt and pepper and cook on the high heat for 2 minutes each side.
- When done, pierce the steaks with a fork and pour over a mix of the lemon juice, olive oil, oregano and red pepper.
- Serve with the aubergine caponata on the side.
The Greek name for these aubergines stuffed with lamb means ‘little shoes’ – quite fitting as we’d walk anywhere to get them!
2 large aubergines
250g minced lamb
1 finely diced onion
1 finely diced carrot
1 finely diced celery stalk
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tin tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp plain flour
100g kefalotyri cheese or Parmesan
- Slice the aubergines in half lengthways. Hollow out the shells with a spoon or a potato peeler leaving a thin layer of flesh around the outside. Dice the scooped flesh and leave to one side.
- Fry the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in a pan until it’s soft, add the minced lamb and brown it for a few minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
- Add the aubergine flesh and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the tomato, spices and water, and season. Allow it to simmer to 30 mins.
- Make a béchamel sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan. Then add the flour and mix thoroughly, cooking for a few minutes. Pour in the lukewarm milk slowly while stirring. Next, sprinkle in the cheese and nutmeg and stir as the sauce thickens. Leave to one side.
- Fill the aubergine shells with the meat mix, top with béchamel and cook at 180°C for 40 minutes.
3. Imam bayildi
The name means ‘the Imam fainted’ in Turkish, a testament to the recipe’s deliciousness. It’s also sure to please any veggies.
2 large aubergines
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
Olive oil for drizzling
Handful shredded fresh mint
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Halve the aubergines lengthways and score the flesh in a criss-cross pattern. Place on a baking tray, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
- Bake the aubergines for 30 minutes until the flesh is soft. Remove, but leave the oven on. Once cool, scoop out the flesh and roughly chop it.
- Soften the onion and garlic in olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat on the hob.
- Add the chopped aubergine flesh to the pan with the sugar, tomato purée, lemon juice and paprika.
- Spoon the mix back into the aubergine skins and cook for 10 minutes more.
- Serve sprinkled with mint.
4. Lebanese Baba Ghanoush
A firm favourite throughout the Middle East, the charred aubergine in this dip creates a moreish, smoky taste.
3 large aubergines
3 tbsp tahini paste
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt
- Pierce the skins of the aubergines and char them on a barbecue, or the naked flame of a gas hob until the skin in blackened and they are soft. Alternatively, roast them in the oven at 220°C for about 45 minutes.
- Let them cool a little before cutting off the tops and peeling the skin.
- Blitz to a smooth paste in a food processor with the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and salt.
- Serve with warm flatbreads.
What are your favourite aubergine recipes? Let us know in the comments below!