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ROASTED BRINJAL BOATS WITH TOMATO & OLIVES

Brinjals, stars of Mediterranean cuisine, are succulent, full-flavoured and packed with attitude. Who needs meat when a vegetable can deliver all this? This dish is perfect served at room temperature at a long, lazy lunch. Food – and its preparation and presentation – should be a pleasure. If a dish looks good in the baking dish, serve it in that.

Pic: Neil Corder

Serves 4


Ingredients

2 medium brinjals
olive oil
12 cocktail tomatoes, halved or quartered
60ml (4 Tbsp) non-dairy cream cheese
15ml (1 Tbsp) drained capers
8 green olives, stoned & chopped
60ml (4 Tbsp) chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 large basil leaves, finely shredded
sea salt & milled black pepper
125ml (½ cup) grated non-dairy parmesan cheese


STEP-BY-STEP

Slice the brinjals lengthwise and use a spoon to hollow out the centres, leaving a border around the edges. Brush the brinjal shells liberally with olive oil and place in a baking dish. Heat the oven to 180ºC.

Chop the brinjal flesh and mix in the tomatoes, non-dairy cream cheese, capers, olives, parsley and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Fill the brinjal boats, piling it high as the filling will sink as it cooks. Scatter the grated non-dairy parmesan cheese on top. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake the brinjals for 60 minutes. Remove the foil, increase the heat to 200ºC and roast for about 10 minutes more to brown the cheese. Serve hot or cool.

NOSH NOTES

  • This dish tastes great hot from the oven or after it has cooled down. To make life even easier, get it ready for roasting a day ahead. Cover and chill in the meanwhile.
  • Finding the perfect wine pairing – The inherent lanolin creaminess of semillon, boosted by clean wood, is a sturdy foil for the sunny Med components and echoes the earthy brinjal flavour. Athletic Bordeaux varieties – cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot – offer a red alternative, but if you serve a big fat shiraz, you’ll ruin the thing completely.
  • Brinjal background -a voluptuous mixture of earthiness and tenderness, originated in tropical Asia and have a meatiness quite unlike any other vegetable. They have many names; Britain adopted the French aubergine, a name that has its origins in Sanskrit vatin-ganah (‘anti-wind’), through Persian badin-gan, Arabic al-badinjan and Catalan alberginera, which neatly tracks its culinary history. Eggplant, its American title, is in deference to it’s shape, though this varies, as does the colour which can range from white, whitish-green, dark green to yellow and the more familiar deep purplish-black.
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