Newsletter 26: Aubergines
www.tisjir.com 4th August 2011 newsletter
AUBERGINE / BRUNGIEL
Aubergines can be bought all year round but they are at their best, not to mention cheapest, from July to September. To prepare, wash the skin and trim off the stalk. Slice or cut the flesh into chunks just before cooking as it discolours quickly.
This humble plant has played a major part in many popular regional cuisines throughout the world - in French ratatouille, the Lebanese baba ganoush, the Greek moussaka, the Italian parmigiana, the caponata in sicily and the brungiel mimli in Malta.
The slightly bland flavour of the aubergine makes it the perfect blank slate to which rich and aromatic spices and herbs can be added. In India, Iran and Afghanistan, aubergines are made into hot, spicy pickles to whet the appetite.
Aubergines not only block the formation of free radicals, they also reduce cholesterol levels. They are also a source of folic acid and potassium.
• olive oil
• 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
• 1/2 a bulb of spring garlic, if you can get it, or 1 clove of regular garlic, peeled and finely sliced
• 1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
• 2 x 400g tins good-quality plum tomatoes or 1kg fresh ripe tomatoes
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• a little wine vinegar
• a large handful of fresh basil
• 4 large handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 2 handfuls of dried breadcrumbs
• a little fresh oregano, leaves chopped
• 1 x 150g ball of buffalo mozzarella
Meanwhile, grill the aubergines on both sides until lightly charred – you may have to do them in batches, as they probably won’t all fit into your griddle pan in one go. As each batch is finished, remove them to a tray and carry on grilling the rest until they’re all nicely done. When the tomato sauce is reduced and sweet, season it carefully with salt, pepper and a tiny swig of wine vinegar, and add the basil. You can leave the sauce chunky or you can purée it.
Get yourself an earthenware type dish (25 x 12–15cm). Put in a small layer of tomato sauce, then a thin scattering of Parmesan, followed by a single layer of aubergines. Repeat these layers until you’ve used all the ingredients up, finishing with a little sauce and another good sprinkling of Parmesan. I like to toss the breadcrumbs in olive oil with a little freshly chopped oregano and sprinkle them on top of the Parmesan. Sometimes the dish is served with torn-up mozzarella on top, which is nice too.
Place the dish in the oven and bake at 190°C/375°F/gas 5 for half an hour until golden, crisp and bubbly. It’s best eaten straight away, but it can also be served cold. You can use the same method substituting courgettes or fennel for the aubergines – both are delicious. But do try making it with aubergines – you’ll love it!
Basla mqaxxra u mqatta fin
2 sinniet term imqatta fin
800g tadam (2 bottijiet kbar)
Bzar u melh
6 imgharef gobon mahkuk
4 imgharef hobz imfarrak
Qatta l-brungiel slices. Go tagen aqli il-basal u t-tewm mal-oregano fiz-zejt ghall 10 minuti sakemm il-basal jirtab. Zid iz-zewg bottijiet tat-tadam. Ghatti u sajjar ghal 15 –il minuta.
Ixwi il-brungiel miz-zewg nahat.
Go dixx itfa ftit miz-zalza tat-tadam, ftit gobon mahkuk u saff wiehed ta’ brungiel. Kompli sejjer hekk sakemm tuza l-ingredjenti kola u spicca bil-parmiggan fil-wicc, u l-frak tal-hobz u roxx ftit zejt taz-zebbuga.
Poggi fil-forn u ahmi ghal nofs sija 190°C/375°F/gas 5. L-ahjar li sservi mal-ewwel.