Aubergine with black garlic

The mighty aubergine is not a vegetable that everyone can appreciate. I know lots and lots of people who don’t like this vegetable and refuse to give it (another) try. Aubergines come in many varieties. They can be white, yellow or purple, or even striped. It’s spongy texture and subtle taste make it very versatile in cooking. That is if you know what to do with them. When they are white and small they look exactly like eggs, which is why they are also called ‘eggplant’ in some countries.

Good to know about aubergines: whatever you do, don’t use the aubergine emoji to send a text to your parents to let them know that you are having aubergine for dinner  🙂 

Most aubergines don’t need peeling, just a quick rinse. Raw, aubergine is flavourless and bland, but upon cooking, it’s spongy texture absorbs all the flavours of its accompanying ingredients and has a melty, meaty texture which is to die for. That’s why aubergines are often used by vegetarians as a substitute for meat. Aubergines can be roasted, grilled, braised, stuffed, fried, boiled, steamed or sautéed, but my go to method is definitely roasting.

Confession…………. up until about 2012 I was one of those people who didn’t like aubergine. The thought of biting into their spongy texture and bland taste………..blehhh. But over the years, I have come to appreciate them more thanks to Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. They have so many great recipes where they roasts them in the oven and then cover them in all kind of yummy ingredients. This is one of those recipes with roasted aubergine which is covered with crunchy fried (regular) garlic, red pepper, fresh herbs and black garlic yoghurt.

I can hear you think ‘black garlic’??? What is that?
Ok, let’s talk black garlic….………you probably are not the only one who never heard of it. Black garlic is made when heads of regular garlic are aged under specialized conditions until the cloves turn a dark black and develop a sticky date-like texture so it’s ideal for spreading. And the taste? Oh my gosh……..the taste is out of this world. Sweet, earthy, minus the invasive smell of regular garlic. Think of it as a umami version of regular garlic. Some people even like to eat the cloves straight from the bulb and say it’s a perfect “sweet meets savoury” mix of molasses-like richness with slight tangy garlic undertones and a melt-in-your mouth consistency similar to soft, dried fruit. It’s said that it’s an acquired taste, but I absolutely love it.

I didn’t have any trouble finding black garlic, it was readily available at my farmers market in my town, and I noticed it’s becoming more and more available everywhere. I even see it in the big supermarkets nowadays. It’s worth sourcing out! If your local stores don’t carry black garlic you can always order it online.

One warning: don’t substitute the black garlic with regular garlic or smoked garlic or any other garlic in this recipe, because they are completely different ingredients. Look for the actual black garlic and try this gorgeous recipe. It’s also the perfect salad for the summertime when the BBQ is smoking and it’s screaming hot outside.

‘It’s getting hot in here so take off all you cloves’.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

Aubergine with black garlic
Source: 'Plenty More' - Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Servings: 4
Ingredients
  • 3 medium aubergines (900g)
  • olive oil
  • 8 large black garlic cloves (35g)
  • 150 g Greek yogurt
  • tsp lemon juice
  • 7 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced (30g)
  • 3 red chillies, sliced on the diagonal into 3mm rounds
  • 5 g dill leaves
  • 5 g basil leaves
  • 5 g tarragon leaves
  • Salt and black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 230C.

  2. Cover 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

  3. Cut the aubergine in 1,5 cm rounds and brush them with olive oil (you will need approx. 4 tbs) and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place on the prepared sheets and put it in the oven.

  4. Roast in the oven until golden-brown – about 30 minutes. You might need to turn the baking sheet half way so they brown evenly. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

  5. Place the black garlic cloves in the small bowl of a food processor with a quarter of a teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of yogurt and the lemon juice. Blitz for a minute, to form a rough paste, and then transfer to a medium bowl. Mix through the rest of the yogurt and keep in the fridge until needed.

  6. Heat up about 3 tbs of oil in a small saucepan on a high heat. Add the slices of regular garlic and chilli slices, reduce the heat to medium and fry for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the garlic is golden-brown and the chilli is crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic and chilli on to a kitchen paper-lined plate. Be careful not to fry the garlic to long as it will get a bitter taste. The roasted garlic and chilli slices give this dish a little “kick”. You can adjust the quantities of either or both of these ingredients to suit your taste.

  7. Arrange the aubergine slices, overlapping, on a platter. Spoon the yoghurt sauce on top, sprinkle over the chilli and garlic and finish with the herbs.

Very Full Roasted Vegetable Tart

I just love a good quiche: it is a good way of eating your veggies or using up whatever leftover veggies you have in the fridge. This recipe is very forgiving and easily adaptable to any budget or preferences in veggies (mushrooms, leeks, broccoli, carrots). The only thing I would not change are the caramelized onions, they are a must in my opinion, but feel free to challenge me and try without. I would love to hear what you think about omitting the onions. I reduced the amount of feta from the original recipe because I think my version is salty enough. I also added an egg to the custard because on some occasions the middle did not set enough to my taste.

      

Although there is no meat in this quiche I have served it to hard-core carnivores and they loved it.  I have to be honest with you, making this tart will take some time and effort but I promise you it’s absolutely worth it. You can prepare a lot of the components in advance and assemble it just before you want to bake it. Use store bought shortcrust pastry if you can’t be bothered to make your own. I always make my own, but I don’t have that recipe on my blog yet. I will add a link to it when I do.

It’s the perfect dish to take to a potluck, because it’s portable and everyone will love it. I made this to take to friends house for dinner. Everyone brought a dish and we enjoyed everything together while discussing the kids, work and many other things in life. They all loved it so much I did not only share the recipe with them. I had to promise them so teach them how to make it.

I know what you’re thinking……..with the cheeses, cream and eggs it’s not a low calorie recipe, but believe me when I tell you it’s totally worth it. By the way we all know calories don’t count on holidays, birthdays, vacations, weekends, after midnight, road trips and dealing with breakups.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

Very Full Roasted Vegetable Tart
Source: “Plenty" -  Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Servings: 8 people
Ingredients
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium aubergine
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1 small courgette
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  • 120 g ricotta
  • 100 g feta
  • shortcrust pastry to cover a 20-24 cm pastry case (about 300gr)
  • 7 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 medium free-range eggs
  • 150 ml double cream
  • salt and black pepper
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 230˚C.

    Cover 2 large baking sheets with foil.

  2. Cut the sweet potatoes and the courgette in 1cm slices. Put them on one of  the prepared baking sheets. Put the baking sheet in the oven.

  3. Cut peppers in half and discard seeds and stem. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and place on the other prepared sheet pan skin side up.

  4. Cut the aubergine in 2cm slices and brush it with olive oil (you will need approx. 4 tbs) and season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place on the prepared sheet pan next to the bell peppers. Put the baking sheet on the top shelf of the oven.

  5. Take out the sweet potato and courgette after 25 minutes and let it cool.

  6. Roast the aubergine and bell peppers for an extra 15 minutes. By then the bell peppers should be charred. Remove from oven and immediately cover the bell peppers with cling foil. Once the bell peppers are cool, the skin will easily come off. Remove the skins and cut into 1cm strips. The aubergine should be golden brown and it might be necessary to turn the baking sheet half way so they brown evenly. Leave the aubergine to cool.

  7. While the veggies are roasting, slice the onions in rings and heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions with the bay leaves and a half teaspoon of salt for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, soft and caramelized. Discard the bay leaves and set aside.

  8. Reduce oven temperature to 160˚C. Line a 24 shallow tart pan (or a 20cm  deep tart pan) with pastry crust. Blind-bake* the crust by lining it with parchment paper, then fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes, lift out the paper and baking beans, and bake for another 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

  9. Spread the onions over the bottom of baked tart crust, then top with roasted vegetables. You can cut the vegetables in small cubes or just layer the slices on top of each other. Scatter with half the thyme and dot with small chunks of both cheeses, then the tomato halves, cut-side up.

  10. Whisk the eggs and cream with a half teaspoon salt and a few grinds of  pepper, and pour into the tart; the tomatoes and cheese should remain exposed. Scatter the remaining thyme on top. Bake for 35–45 minutes, until the filling sets and turns golden. Rest for at least 10 minutes, then remove the tart from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature. Optional: garnish with a little bit of fresh thyme.

  11. * ~ Blind baking prevents a soggy crust in the finished tart.