Despite working a late shift today in work, I find myself as usual unable to sleep in. Waking up at six am which is a whole five hours before work. I think sleeping in is a thing of the past. If I don’t get up, Cara (the puppy) cries and throws herself at the kitchen door until I do. So after a very pleasant morning run around the park and a play date with Lily the golden retriever we have come home exhausted and now pottering around the house, planning dinner for later, drinking coffee (lots of coffee) and writing about what I made yesterday.
I don’t make much in the way of Greek food, which is weird seeing as my father lives in Greece and we absolutely love the food. I make some dishes but not a lot. Greek food just doesn’t taste right when not eaten the blissful sunshine of a courtyard restaurant in Greece, well that’s how I feel about it anyway. In case you didn’t know, I love lasagne and I love cheese. I also adore Moussaka. But anytime I make moussaka, I don’t think my better half is thrilled. It looks like lasagne in it’s dish but it isn’t (at all). Yesterday I wanted to try a baked aubergine dish. I happened to stumble upon a deal in my local market and a whole big bag of aubergines was only two euro, so of course I had to avail of this offer and get to work. I wanted moussaka, and knew this might not go down the best so I decided to make baked aubergines, topped with lamb and with a feta cheese sauce and pine nuts. Almost kinda a moussaka!
I used Ottolenghi’s roasted aubergine with buttermilk sauce dish from the book ‘Plenty’ as the method of cooking and inspiration. And of course there are many different ways to serve the roasted aubergine and different toppings but I wanted to go more meaty and cheesy. It tasted delicious and looked very nice. I got the thumbs up from D which pleased me to no end!
ROASTED AUBERGINE WITH SPICED LAMB, FETA CHEESE SAUCE AND TOASTED PINE NUTS
- 2 large Aubergines
- 400 g minced lamb
- olive oil
- 1 tsp of mixed dried rosemary and thyme
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground Spanish smoked paprika
- 50 ml tomato passata
- 150 ml buttermilk
- knob of butter (about 20 g)
- 3/4 tbsp plain flour
- 100 g feta cheese
- small handful of pine nuts
- shredded basil for garnish
Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan oven). Wash the aubergines and cut them in two length ways through the green stalk ( don’t eat the stalk). Make three deep parallel incisions in the cut side of the aubergine, taking care not to cut as far as the skin. Then, at an angle to these cuts, make more slits, to create a diamond pattern.
Put the aubergines, cut side up, on an oven tray lined with baking parchment and brush with some oil. Keep on brushing until all the oil has soaked into the flesh. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and the rosemary and thyme, and roast for 35-40 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft, flavoursome and well browned. Remove and leave to cool.
Meanwhile for the lamb, heat a tbsp of oil in a pan, add the onions and saute for a few minutes, add the garlic, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin and smoked paprika and stir. Cook for a minute to let the spices release their flavour. Add the lamb and stir until browned. Add the passata and cook for 20 minutes.
Once your aubergine are cooled, scoop out the center row of flesh and add to the lamb.
For the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and mix until combined. Whisk in the buttermilk and heat gently, continuously stirring or the bottom will burn. Just before it reaches boiling point, take off the heat and add the feta cheese and season. Whisk until the cheese has melted and the sauce is rich and creamy.
To assemble, spoon the lamb mix into the pockets of your aubergine. Top with some cheese sauce. Place back in the oven for 8 minutes. Sprinkle the pine nuts and basil on top to serve.