Burnt aubergine with garlic, lemon and pomegranate seeds

July 13, 2017
Family Verdict:


4 large aubergines (1.5kg before cooking; 550g after burning and draining the flesh)

2 garlic cloves, crushed 

grated zest of 1 lemon and 2 tbsp lemon juice

5 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 tbsp chopped mint

seeds of 1/2 a large pomegranate (80g in total)

salt and black pepper

First burn your aubergines - there are a number of ways of doing this.

You can do it in the oven:

1. Preheat the oven to 220C.  Line a large baking pan (or two, if necessary) with aluminum foil.

2. Using a sharp pairing knife, make deep gashes throughout the aubergine.  Place the aubergine on the baking pans.

3. Roast in the oven for an hour (rotating every 20 minutes) or until the aubergine skin has burnt evenly throughout.

You can do it on the BBQ/gas Hob

1. place your aubergines in/on the flames of your heat source(you might want to line yr hob with foil to protect it)

2. Allow the skins enough time to completely char before turning an unburnt piece into the flame

3. rotate and char the aubergine until it is all done. If the aubergine bursts in the process, ignore it and keep going!

4. Remove the eggplant and let cool. Once it is cool enough to handle, peel away the skin and, using a spoon, scoop out the flesh of the eggplant, transporting to a mixing bowl.

5. Place eggplant into a colander and let sit for at least an hour, or until it has drained most of its liquid.  Once this is done, transfer back to the mixing bowl.

6. Mash the eggplant with a fork.  Mix in the garlic, lemon zest and juice.  Stir in the olive oil.  Refrigerate for 30-40 minutes to let it develop its flavour.

7. Remove from the refrigerator.  Mix in 3/4 of the parsley, 3/4 of the mint, and 3/4 of the pomegranate seeds.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

8. Garnish with remaining pomegranate seeds, mint, parsley, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Serve with pita bread or as part of a mezze


Well it is summer, time for outdoor cooking and eating. I went through a phase a few years ago when this meant - almost exclusively - the food of the middle east as interpreted by the high priest of that cuisine at the time one Ottolenghi, Y.

As with all such obsessions they are very intense at the time and fade gradually. This year I am on more of an Italian kick, but also as with other obsessions, you are left changed by your previous ones and certain things become art of your repertoire. With Ottolenghi it was a number of dishes that handle (as he calls it) the Mighty Aubergine. Heretofor I had been sceptical about the aubergine. My encounters with it mostly limited to a rubbery, slippery tasteless component of a school moussaka or an undercooked and chewy part of a watery insipid ratatouille. So i was initially reticent to experiment, but I went ahead and now there are a number of Otto's (as I like to call him) recipes which are now a core part of my extended repertoire.

This "salad" as he calls it is one of them. There is an aubergine risotto which I will cook sometime when the Eldest Child is back (she is in Thailand at the time of writing) which is great as well and of course the verdura mista that I have documented elsewhere. Suffice to say that if cooked properly (attention to taste and texture) and accompanied by other robust flavours then Aubergine can replace meat very easily and form the centrepiece of a meal.

One of the key tricks with aubergine is to"burn" it. This is a similar process to charring peppers prior to skinning them - except with such a high water content, it takes a lot longer to char the aubergine such that the flesh cooks in the process.. And the skin does need to burn, because you are looking to sear the flesh just below the skin so that it takes on a smoky flavour which really enhances it. This burning process for aubergines forms the kick off point of many of Ottos recipes and it is worth biting the bullet and doing it, because it transforms the vegetable into something with real flavour (even if the texture is a bit suspicious!

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