i have a friend who doesn't like aubergines.
she doesn't like lots of other things, some of which also begin with A, but it's the aubergine that i find particularly bothersome. i can forgive a dislike of artichokes, or anchovies (more of which later), or even avocados but aubergine is somehow so innocuous that it should not belong in the category of 'difficult' or 'you need to educate your palate' foods.
so every now and then i threaten some kind of a vegetable rehabilitation course, where the stuff she doesn't like is made (okay, disguised) in various ways she hasn't tried before. we could have a chart where she'd tick off failures and successes.
battered aubergine, a la my mum, has been on that list for a long time. it's one of my favourite foods ever. and now i've discovered this.
it was an accident, really. i opened the fridge last night to see what i could make with the pork we were having for dinner, and i found two red peppers and 2 small aubergines. i bought both for a reason but the reason escaped me - this happens a lot.
the first cookbook i grabbed off the top of the fridge was the gennaro contaldo one, on account of the nut-stuffed trout i made the other day. in it there was a recipe for barbecued squid with this sauce. i got a little flutter of excitement, the way other people get when they find a fiver in their pocket, or win £2 on a scratchcard. and that was it, i knew i had to make it.
it was delicious, and particularly delicious with the roast vegetables. i know i keep banging on about roasting cauliflower but it's such a good way of adding a bit of variety to what you eat. when we finished, r proclaimed that these were 'the best vegetables ever'.
you can vary the proportions of aubergines and peppers used - if you want more smokey flavour, add more aubergine. the original recipe uses only one and 500g of peppers.
you will notice the recipe also contains anchovies. most people don't seem to like them - i think that's because they've been made to eat rubbish ones in brine on dodgy pizzas - but i am convinced you would not know they are in this sauce. they sort of dissolve, leaving just a little of the salty, savoury taste.
ROAST RED PEPPER AND AUBERGINE SAUCE
for four (eat the leftovers cold as a dip)
2 red peppers
2 small aubergines
2 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
6 anchovy fillets, chopped roughly
1 tbs capers
a couple of glugs of olive oil
first, preheat the oven to 220C. place the peppers and the aubergines on a tray and roast in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. i just put them in whole, without any oil or seasoning. they are ready when the skin has blackened and the vegetables are soft. if your aubergines are small, they'll take about the same amount of time as the peppers. if they are large, they'll need a bit longer.
when they are done, peel the skin off the peppers (should come off easily) and scrape the aubergine flesh out, discarding the skin. if you can, save the juice that will come off the peppers.
put the vegetables flesh in a food processor or blender and pulse with the garlic, capers and anchovies until smooth. then add a couple of glugs of olive oil and whizz again until smooth. if it's very thick - and mine wasn't - add some of the saved pepper juice.
transfer to a pan and heat gently before serving but don't let it boil.