I'm sharing with you my take on what chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi describe in Ottolenghi the Cookbook as 'the archetypal Ottolenghi salad: robust contrasting flavours, vibrant and vivacious colours, fresh herbs and nuts - laid out generously to reveal all of the dish's elements.'
On weekday mornings as Peter and I travel to work, there is a certain spot on an avenue where my eyes are drawn to a tall pomegranate tree growing in the front garden of a someone's house. I cannot help but admire and covet the flame-coloured baubles that adorn this tree, and I keep saying to my Peter that we must call in and pay homage to the tree, its bounty and its owners. I am hoping that the people are friendly and may be interested in bartering fresh produce with us.
Pomegranates and aubergines are in season over the Autumn months in Australia and there was certainly plenty of both at our local farmer's market this morning. In culinary terms, the timing is perfect for me, as I'm right in the midst of a Middle Eastern phase!
In my Favourite flavours post on pomegranates recently, I promised to share with you some recipes I had been experimenting with and here is one of those. It is my take on a recipe from the inspiring Ottolenghi the Coobook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamami. I love the deliciousness and simplicity of the dish, and that it can be prepared ahead of time and will keep well in the fridge for two or three days. Over the last several weeks, I've been enjoying it as a stand alone vegetarian lunch, as well as serving it as part of our evening meal.
While the roasted aubergines are the stars of this dish, the exquisitely flavoured pearls of the pomegranate really shine.
OTTOLENGHI'S ROASTED AUBERGINE WITH SAFFRON YOGHURT & POMEGRANATE (my way)
2-4 medium sized aubergines (eggplant), sliced lengthways 1-2cm thick
extra virgin olive oil, to spray or brush on
a sprinkle of wild mushroom and black garlic salt*
2 tablespoons slivered almonds, lightly toasted
3/4 cup pomegranate arils
a handful of baby spinach leaves, washed, patted dry
sprig of baby basil, to serve
For the saffron yoghurt:
a pinch of saffron threads
2 tablespoons hot water
4 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
a tiny pinch of sea salt (optional)
So, first we make the saffron yoghurt, for the longer that the saffron infusion is in the yoghurt, the richer the colour and flavour will be. Simply combine the saffron threads with the hot water and allow them to steep for ten to fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, combine the yoghurt, lemon juice and salt, if using, in a bowl and whisk in the saffron infusion. Chill until ready to serve (noting that this will keep for two or three days in the fridge). The colour will become a deep beautiful golden shade if left overnight!
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. Arrange the slices of aubergine on a tray lined with baking paper. Brush or spray generously with olive oil, then sprinkle with the wild mushroom and black garlic salt (or cracked pepper and sea salt). Roast for 20 minutes or so, turning once, until the aubergine flesh is golden brown. Set aside and allow them to cool down. To serve, arrange a pile of aubergine slices on a serving platter together with the baby spinach leaves. Drizzle over the saffron yoghurt, then garnish with the toasted almonds, pomegranate arils and sprigs of baby basil. Serves 2-4.
* Use cracked black pepper and sea salt if preferred.
While aubergines are the stars of this dish...
The pomegranate arils really shine...
The process in pictures...
Exquisitely flavoured pearls of the pomegranate...
As Ottolenghi says, this dish 'doesn't need much else beside it.'
Be'tei'avon! Good appetite!
Tell me, how diverse is your culinary repertoire? Do you tend to vary your themes? And what phases are you exploring at the moment?
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.