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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vegetarian stuffed aubergines (ketofriendly)

This recipe was absolutely spontaneous. I was planning to make vegetarian lasagne, using slices of aubergines as a lasagne sheets, but I suddenly changed my mind and decided to stuff them. I think aubergines were to pretty to slice them. While preparing the stuffing I also decided to grab couple mushrooms, some cherry tomatoes, and as I have had some space in between halves of aubergines added garlic bulb. And that’s how the recipe came out.

Because we both were a bit fed up with meat I used vegetarian mince made with mycoprotein, which is Fusarium venenatum – fungus that grows in the soil and is produced in fermentation process. Although I try not to buy any highly processed foods, this one has fairly short ingredient list, it’s high in protein and has only 4.5g of carbohydrates in 100g of which sugars is 0.6g. Apart from that, it’s simply tasty and extremely versatile.

As I didn’t want my aubergines to be very cheese I decided to use white Cheshire cheese – zesty and mild in taste, with some citrus hints, a bit of mature cheddar and to finish just a sprinkle of parmesan to add some more flavour. But obviously add any cheese you like the most, and you can be much more generous with it.

Last days in Scotland are moody, grey and dark and I constantly struggle with the light on my kitchen counter, trying to make any reasonable photos without using tripod which is very unreasonable considering the amount of natural light I can work with. I hate using tripod, I have to make plenty of acrobatics to place it somehow in front of my food and over the sink in the same time. So I end up spending hours with editing photos, sometimes with really weird colours or white balance. I keep looking at them, thinking there’s still something wrong with them.

Anyway, baked stuffed aubergines are pretty much yummy beside the photos are perfect or not, and you should definitely try this recipe. Especially if you’re fed up with traditional lasagne and you’re looking for something slightly different. It’s really easy to prepare and portion – just pop a half of the aubergine on a plate add couple mushrooms and cherry tomatoes and aromatic baked garlic. And voila!

You can use any veg mince you like (for example soya), or real meat (both pork and beef will be great). Also try you passata first before you add it to mince – I noticed that depending of the brand and packaging it might be very sour. I don’t know how but all of these passata packed in paper cartons are much more sour than bottled ones I’m used to buy. So just keep it in mind while preparing this recipe.

vegetarian stuffed aubergines

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 small aubergines
  • 300 g vegetarian mince (I like Quorn mince)
  • 1 brown onion
  • about 250 ml tomato passata
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • couple mushrooms
  • couple cherry tomatoes
  • olive oil to drizzle
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • natural rock salt to taste
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • pinch of coarse pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp dried basil (and some fresh basil for decoration)
  • parmesan cheese
  • white cheese – Cheshire cheese
  • mature cheddar cheese

DIRECTIONS

Finely chop one brown onion. Take a large pan and heat it adding 1 tablespoon of butter. Toss the onion and fry until golden. Than add frozen mince and fry for about 5-7 minutes. If you use real meat obvously use fresh or defrosted and fry until it’s cooked.

In the meantime prepare aubergines. Wash then thoroughly and slice in half, you can cut off the green end (it’s not edible). Using a small knife gently cut out the flesh of the veg, making room fro stuffing. Chop the flesh finely and add to mince. Also add salt, pepper, cumin seeds, chilli flakes, garlic granules and chopped basil. Fry for 2 minutes and add tomato passata. Be careful with your passata – depending of the brand it might be more or less sour. If yours is quite sour and you need more liquid simply add some water. Leave it to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Drizzle your baking dish with some olive oil. Stuff each half of aubergine with mince and place in the dish. Then add garlic bulb (cut it in half leaving the peels on), mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Crumble some cheese on top and drizzle with additional olive oil.

Cover the dish with lid and bake for about 20-25 minutes in 180℃, removing the lid after 15 minutes.

Serve hot sprinkled with some parmesan cheese and decorated with fresh basil leaves. Enjoy!