grilled aubergine and chickpeas salad with sumac dressing

I’m a sucker for a good salad. Recently salads became my go to lunch options, I just open my fridge early in the morning and I pack my luchbox with bunch of veg with occasional addition of meat, cheese or egg. Sometimes it’s even hard to call it a salad, it rather looks like someone placed randomly some foods with splash of olive oil and cream cheese on top (oh, cream cheese is like ice cream for keto-people – yummy). But at 6am that’s sometimes the pinnacle of my abilities.

If I’m more fancy and I get myself together to prepare something on the evening before, it looks more like that.

Although this one looks and tastes much better when freshly made, rather than on a next day, when aubergine becomes a bit soggy and discoloured. Grilled aubergine (and courgette…and peppers… and mushrooms…oh and onion) tastes like heaven, so before I even managed to complete preparing this salad for photos half of it was eaten by my partner (nightmare of food blogers – while you setting up a photo shoot space, your other half shouting from the kitchen: “will you need that veg? I already ate some!”)

Definitely I need to remember that I love grilled aubergine, and use more often my grilling pan that lives on the bottom of the cupboard – forgotten. Apart from being delicious, aubergine is simply beautiful with it’s shiny dark purple firm skin, I’m always amazed by their look. Technically aubergine is a fruit, but I guess apart from bunch of pen-pushers thinking about how to classify a plant or at what angle should the banana curve, no one cares. Aubergine is versatile – it can be baked, mashed into a dip, roast, grilled and cooked – as it easily absorbs other flavours, so it works great in meals rich in spices – like curry’s and stews. Aubergines have a high water content with almost no cholesterol or fat and are a source of vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, dietary fiber, folic acid, potassium, and manganese.

They are though a part of the nightshade family – which also include tomato and bell peppers – and in some cases are known to cause severe allergic reactions. So if you’ve never tried aubergine before and you have a history of food allergies , keep it in mind.

For the lucky ones that can eat aubergine without limits here’s a delicious recipe 🙂


grilled aubergine and chickpeas salad with sumac dressing


INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small aubergine
  • 150g can of chickpeas
  • baby salad leaves (spinach, different types of lettuce)
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • piece of feta cheese
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • couple tbsp olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Heat up a grill pan, drizzle a little bit of olive oil. Cut aubergine in about half inch (1-1.5cm) slices and grill couple minutes on each side. Set aside to cool down.

Prepare dressing: finely chop garlic (or use garlic press), crush it with pinch of salt, add lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper and sumac.

In a large bowl place a bunch of baby salad leaves, arrange slices of aubergine (you can chop them in smaller pieces), halves of cherry tomatoes and chickpeas. Crumble some feta cheese on top and drizzle with sumac dressing. Serve fresh.

You can store it in the fridge for up to two days, but it tastes the best when fresh.

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mediterranean pork fillet skillet

I usually make a pork fillet very basic: with a lot of brown onion, fried on clarified butter with some salt and pepper. But this time decided to try something different for a change. Couple day ago I bought a few aubergines, also had a bottle of passata in my cupboard, so I though maybe adding kind of Mediterranean sauce to this pork would work quite well? I could add finely chopped aubergine to the sauce, to make it more aromatic. And it worked quite well. Thick tomato sauce, with lots of garlic and basil did a job.

Recently I’ve noticed some kind of reluctance to meat, especially red meat. My body for some reason doesn’t want any beef or pork, it’s much better with chicken though. As I cook also for my partner, I still prepare meat, but when it comes to consuming, I’d rather replace it with something else or eat just a little bit if I feel like. I don’t know what’s the reason for that, but I could literally eat veggies all day long.

Maybe that’s why I’ve enjoyed this Mediterranean pork fillet so much – because of the veggie sauce 🙂

I’ve added lots of dried basil to it, but even better if you have fresh one. I’m afraid of buying fresh basil pot, after couple months ago I’ve discovered plenty of tiny maggots living on my beautifully growing basil plant. Because they were living under the leaves, I haven’t seen them until I wanted to grab a bunch for homemade pesto. Whole plant finished in the bin, and I haven’t buy any other since then. But if you have beautiful and healthy basil on your windowsill or in the garden, do not hesitate and add a lot to this tomato sauce.

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mediterranean pork fillet skillet

INGREDIENTS for 2 portions + leftovers:

  • 400g pork fillet
  • 1 small aubergine
  • couple mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp clarified butter
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 300-400ml tomato passata
  • 2 tsp dried basil (add fresh if you have)
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper (or 1/2 tsp coarse pepper)
  • natural rock salt

DIRECTIONS

Cut your pork fillet in thin slices – about half of an inch (about 1cm). Finely chop brown onion, wash aubergine and chop it as well. Slice garlic cloves or use a garlic press if you wish.

Heat a large skillet, adding 3 tbsp of clarified butter. Add meat, and fry on a high heat, until both sides slightly golden. Then add onion and salt and fry for about 5 minutes. Next add aubergine, mushrooms and all the spices: garlic, bay leaves, basil and lemon pepper, lower the heat and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add passata and simmer on a low heat for about 20 minutes. You might need to add some water, depending of the thickness of passata. Also while cooking liquid will evaporate, so you can add some water according to how thick you want sauce to be like.

Check the taste, if you feel like it needs more basil, add more, also you might need more salt. If you’re satisfied with the taste, switch off the heat and serve. Depending of your liking: salad leaves, couscous, gnocchi etc. I had mine with bunch of green leaves, as I try not to eat any high carb foods.

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smoked sausage traybake (ketofriendly)

I have a serious problem with arranging the food on a plate for photos when I’m hungry. Ideally I would just toss a bunch of veg and couple sausage, and start eating before it gets cold, and I go really frustrated trying to make some kind of aesthetic composition on the plate. Sometimes it finishes like this.

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I’m still far away from professional food composition, but I hate cold food. So please bear with me if you feel embarrassed with this veg and sausage set up. Just double the portion of veggies and imagine me running with the fork, so I can finally grab a seat at the table and start eating. Yes, I was very hungry on that day 🙂

But. I really like this kind of meals, where you have all ingredients separately. I could make a mix of all veggies with sliced sausage, but I was smuggling some potatoes for my partner, so I sectioned everything on the baking tray, making sure that I won’t get any potatoes by mistake. Yeah, my partner is taking a keto break, but I feel like sooner or later (rather sooner) he will decide to get back on ketogenic track. Anyway, if you like traybake of veggies mixed with sausages, make some mess.

I’m not the biggest fan of sausages, the only one I like is the smoked ones from time to time. You can find smoked sausages in every Polish shop, and most of the popular supermarkets in UK. Look for the one that has a lot of meat in it, short list of ingredients, and as little as possible preservatives. The one that we like is a mix of pork and turkey meat (prepared with 80g of pork meat and 21g turkey meat per 100g of finished product) and only one preservative: sodium nitrite. Stay away from the one that are full of flour, artificial colours, starches, soya proteins and many preservatives.

I’ve also added couple unpeeled garlic cloves. If you’ve never tried baked garlic, you should definitely start adding it to your baked veggies and meats. It gets soft, buttery and sweet when caramelised. Garlic heaven! (check out my recipe for chicken baked with 40 cloves of garlic). If not that unfortunate potatoes I would add plenty of onion, but I haven’t been left with much room.

Anyway if you want something effortless, tasty and fun, grab couple smoked sausages, plenty of veggies, garlic (undoubtedly!), place them all on a baking tray, drizzle with some olive oil, sprinkle with herbs and pop into the oven. Get nice and crispy sausage and veggies, that are melting in you mouth. You can serve it with some low sugar ketchup, mustard or horseradish.

Yum!

smoked sausage traybake (ketofriendly)

INGREDIENTS (for two people):

  • 300g smoked sausage
  • 2 medium courgettes
  • 1 large aubergine
  • couple unpeeled garlic cloves
  • some olive oil
  • natural rock salt or sea salt flakes
  • pinch of dried basil
  • handful of cherry tomatoes (for baking or as I did – fresh)

DIRECTIONS

Preparations are as easy as it can be. Grab a large tray and place a piece of baking paper on it.

Take sausages, make small crosswise cuts, not very deep, to make kind of chequered pattern. Do it on both sides of each sausage.

Wash courgettes and aubergine and chop in smaller pieces, but don’t cut them very small. It will take about 40 minutes to bake the sausages, so we don’t want to burn veggies. Keep garlic unpeeled.

Place veggies, garlic and sausages on the tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle veggies with some dried basil and salt. If you like, also place cherry tomatoes. I’d rather like them fresh, but if you don’t mind baking them, do not hesitate.

Heat the oven to 200°C, and bake until veg and sausages are ready, it took me about 40 minutes. You can use grill function in the oven to sear the sausages slightly.

After baking place immediately on a plate and enjoy. You can serve it with low sugar ketchup, mustard or horseradish. After baking garlic is ready to be peeled, should be soft, buttery and slightly sweet when caramelised.

Enjoy!