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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