Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Aubergine with Tomato and Garden Herbs

We have been enjoying many a long evening in the garden both north and south.
This dish sings to me of summer, it is healthy, meat-free and inexpensive.

Baked Aubergine with Tomato and Garden Herbs

Choose aubergines which are firm and heavy.  For most imported European varieties, you do not need to 'degorge' the flesh - this is the process of salting the flesh to remove the bitter juices.  I do this, not to remove the bitter taste, but to reduce the amount of oil which the flesh absorbs when cooking.  The fruit is capable of taking in large quantities of cooking fats and sauces which can make for a very rich dish, although this in my mind is not always a good thing. 
So to degorge it, I slice the aubergine, place in a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt, cover with a plate and weight it down.  Leaving the fruit for about an hour on a draining board.  You will see the light coloured liquid drain out in time.  Rinse the fruit under cold water to remove the salt and pat it dry with some kitchen towel.

You will need:

1.5kg of aubergines ( I used 3)
10 ripe tomatoes
1 tin chopped tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1 large knob butter
3+ Tblsps sunflower oil
400ml creme fraiche
1 large bunch of fresh garden herbs - sage, chives, parsley, tarragon, lemon balm, thyme, oregano
100g finely grated parmesan

Firstly slice the aubergines into 1cm rounds, salt well and leave in a colander on the draining board for no less than 30 minutes.

Meanwhile make the tomato sauce by roughly chopping the tomatoes, finely slicing the garlic and adding both to the melted butter in a saucepan.  Pour in the tin of tomatoes and their juice and add a splash of red wine.  Bring to the the boil, reduce to nothing more than a bubble and leave for a few hours to reduce.

When the aubergines have 'degorged', rinse under water to remove the salt and give them a good squeeze.
In a shallow frying pan over a medium heat, add 3 Tblsps of sunflower oil.  Lay out some kitchen paper or a clean tea towel beside where you are working.  In batches cook the aubergine on both sides until it is golden brown, remove and set aside to drain.  Repeat until all the aubergine have been browned.

Take your tomato sauce which has by this stage reduced nicely and work by layering the aubergine into a shallow oven proof dish, noting that you may want to serve this at the table so don't use your old chipped one, although if you only have an old chipped one, it will all add to the charm and the taste will well make up for it.
Add a layer of aubergine, a layer of tomato and a sprinkling of parmesan.  Repeat until all the aubergine has been used up.  If you have any tomato sauce left over, it will be great on pasta with some torn basil.

Now add the creme fraiche into a separate saucepan and boil it for 7-10 minutes or so.  Finely chop the fresh herbs, add to the sauce along with the remaining parmesan and season with freshly ground black pepper and some sea salt.
Pour over the tomato and aubergine mixture, sprinkle on some more cheese if you have it.

Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 35 minutes until golden brown on top and bubbling.

Serve with a fresh salad from the garden or allotment and some crusty bread.

You can also replace the aubergine with courgette, see below.

We are off to Berlin in the morning for three weeks where I will have no phone and no Internet.  This I look forward to along with ...
the silence of our bright apartment,
the long cycles in the dry forest trying to spot wild boar (apparently not so hard any more)
my youngest sons delight at all the different trains in every s-bahn and u-bahn station,
many dips in the magical lakes
the wonderful Karl-August Platz market
all our friends in Charlottenburg
definitely the pizza bianca at Cafe am Neuem See
recycling absolutely everything
Weiss wurst and beer in KaDeWe
oh and these Berliner delicacies.....which I found at Dun Laoghaire market a few Sundays ago being sold by a German girl! - they are called Krapfen and they are especially good.

The list can go on and on until I get back.  But I will be back I promise with hopefully with some new experiences and I have no doubt an urge to move there permanently. 
I have to come back though to do the Lurig run on 13th August apparently so I will have to carefully monitor my Krapfen intake.
Guten Abend.

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