Aubergine recipes from around the Med

Aubergine recipes from around the Med

This stop on the world menu takes in recipes from around Europe and the Middle East, all featuring this versatile and delicious vegetable

We’re taking a cruise around the Mediterranean for the next stop on our world menu tour, with a host of recipes based on aubergines. Originating in southern and eastern Asia, aubergines came to Europe via the Middle East. Our recipes will retrace their path, beginning in Italy with accompaniment to Sicilian seafood, before moving on to stuffed Greek and Turkish recipes and finishing with a Lebanese dip.

Sicilian swordfish with caponata
A rich side dish with a taste of summer and light, fresh fish – what could be better?

Ingredients: 2 aubergines; 2 sticks of celery; 1 small onion; 1 tsp capers; 10 green olives, stoned; 2 tbsp of white wine vinegar; 1 tin of tomatoes; olive oil; 400g of swordfish steaks; 2 tbsp of lemon juice; 2 tsp of chopped fresh oregano or 1 tbsp dried; a pinch if crushed red pepper flakes; salt and pepper

Instructions: Heat olive oil in a frying pan, then add the aubergines, cut into chunks. Stir to brown them all over. Then 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.

Papoutsakia
The Greek name for these aubergines stuffed with lamb means ‘little shoes’

Ingredients: 2 large aubergines; 250g of minced lamb; 1 finely diced onion; 1 finely diced carrot; 1 finely diced celery stalk; 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped; 1 tin of tomatoes; 1tbsp of tomato purée; 1tsp ground cinnamon; 1 tsp ground cloves; 30g butter; 1 tbspn plain flour; 250ml of milk; 125ml of water; a pinch of nutmeg; 100g of kefalotyri cheese or parmesan

Instructions: 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, cook for a couple of minutes. 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. Add the lukewarm milk slowly while stirring. Then add 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.

Imam bayildi
The name means ‘the Imam fainted’ in Turkish, a testament to the recipe’s deliciousness

Ingredients: 2 large aubergines; 4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced; 2 tbsp tomato purée; 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika; 1tsp of brown sugar; 1 tbsp of lemon juice; olive oil; a handful of shredded fresh mint

Instructions: 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. Cook the aubergines for 30 minutes until the flesh is soft. Remove and leave the oven on. Menawhile, soften the onion and garlic in olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat hob. When the aubergines have cooled, scoop out their flesh, roughly chop it and add to the pan. Add the sugar, tomato puree, lemon juice and paprika. Spoon the mix back into the aubergine skins and cook for ten minutes more. Serve sprinkled with mint.

Lebanese Baba Ghanouj
Eaten throughout the Middle East, this dip has a smoky taste from the charred aubergine

Ingredients: 3 large aubergines; 3 tbsp of tahini paste; 2 garlic cloves, crushed; 4 tablespoons of olive oil; 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. Then blitz them to a smooth paste in a food processor with the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and salt. Serve with warm flatbread.
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