From a Turkish-inspired casserole with harissa and olives to a classic Italian parmigiana, these aubergine recipes will make delicious mid-week meals.
There are plenty of ingredients that will be regular occupants of your fridge – but are you putting them to the most delicious use possible? Perhaps not. Take aubergine. Despite being one of the most versatile fruits (yes, fruits) around, many of us only use the shiny purple plant in basic pasta, curry and stew dishes.
Needless to say, this does aubergine a huge disservice. Not only can it be cooked in virtually any way you please, its fleshy texture makes it a great substitute for meat. Even better, aubergine’s mild, buttery taste soaks up other flavours in a way that will make you want to eat plant-based meals on the regular.
So to make sure we’re all giving aubergine the love it deserves, we’ve found five recipes influenced by menus from around the world. Kicking things off is Katy Beskow’s aubergine and orzo guvec, a spin on a traditional Turkish casserole. Featuring cinnamon, harissa, pine nuts and green olives, it’s an easy, speedy and nourishing dish that makes an ideal mid-week meal.
If you’re craving something fresh, try Gill Meller’s palate-cleansing aubergine, courgette and lettuce salad. The addition of toasted seeds adds a satisfying crunch, while the slight bitterness of the roasted vegetables is balanced with a creamy honey and tahini dressing.
Fans of Greek moussaka should experiment with Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley’s Palestinian musaqa’a, a Palestinian aubergine, chickpea and tomato traybake that tastes just as good as a room-temperature lunch the following day. Similarly leftover-worthy is Megan Davies’ honey, miso and soy aubergine with yoghurt and coriander – although this dish is most delicious reheated if you find yourself going back for more.
Finally, it wouldn’t be an aubergine roundup without a classic Italian parmigiana, and the Silver Spoon Kitchen’s parmesan aubergine recipe will inject a shot of Mediterranean warmth into the coldest February evening.
Happily, all of these recipes are vegetarian without even trying; the guvec and musaqa’a are vegan. Enjoy.
Aubergine and orzo guvec
Katy Beskow says: “This twist on the classic Turkish casserole is named after the dish it is cooked in, guvec. If you don’t have a guvec to cook in, simply use a casserole dish or lidded pan. Serve in bowls with crusty bread to dip, for a taste of the Middle East.”
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 aubergine, roughly chopped into 2cm chunks
- 1 red onion, roughly chopped
- 1 courgette, roughly chopped into 2cm chunks
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp harissa paste
- 10 cherry tomatoes
- 10 pitted green olives
- 4 tbsp dried orzo (ensure egg-free)
- 1 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
- small handful of flat-leaf parsley
- sea salt
Heat the oil in a large lidded pan or hob-proof casserole dish, add the aubergine, then begin to brown over a medium-high heat for 4–5 minutes.
Add the red onion, courgette, oregano and cinnamon, then cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Pour in the chopped tomatoes and harissa, then stir through the cherry tomatoes and olives. Loosely place the lid on the dish, reduce the heat to low-medium and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the orzo and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat, scatter over the pine nuts and flat-leaf parsley and season to taste with a pinch of sea salt.
From Vegan Fakeaway: Plant-Based Takeaway Classics For The Ultimate Night In by Katy Beskow (£15, Quadrille), out now
Aubergine, courgette and lettuce salad with toasted seeds, mint and tahini dressing
Gill Meller says: “I like to roast the aubergines and courgettes until they start to crisp a little around their edges. This gives them a slight bitterness, which I find exceptionally delicious alongside the honey and tahini in the dressing that is spooned over the vegetables once they’re cooked.”
- 2–3 aubergines, sliced into 1cm rounds
- 2–3 courgettes, cut into 1cm rounds
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, bashed
- 2 small cos or little gem lettuces
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the toasted seeds:
- 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp unrefined caster sugar
- good pinch of sea salt
For the dressing:
- 2 tbsp tahini
- ½ garlic clove, crushed or grated
- juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
- 2 tsp runny honey
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Place the aubergines and courgettes in a bowl and trickle over the olive oil. Season well and add the bashed garlic. Toss the whole lot together, then lay the vegetable slices out over a large baking tray (or two trays, if necessary) in a single layer.
Cook for 35 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking, until the vegetables are soft and beginning to crisp around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little.
Meanwhile, make the toasted seeds. Place a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the seeds, oil, sugar and salt and cook for 2–3 minutes, tossing everything together as the seeds toast, until they are fragrant and beginning to pop a little. Set aside to cool.
Make the dressing. Put the tahini in a small bowl with the garlic, lemon juice and zest, yoghurt, honey and oil. Whisk with a fork until thick and creamy. If the dressing is too thick, add a little dash of cold water to loosen.
Finish the salad. Cut the base from each lettuce and discard any damaged outer leaves in the compost. Separate the leaves, wash them and spin dry.
Arrange the leaves over a large platter, top with the roasted aubergines and courgettes, then spoon over the dressing and finish with a scattering of the toasted seeds.
From Root, Stem, Leaf, Flower: How To Cook With Vegetables And Other Plants by Gill Meller (£27, Quadrille), out now
Aubergine, chickpea and tomato bake (musaqa’a)
Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley say: “Echoes of the Greek dish moussaka are correctly heard here, both in the name and the feel of the dish. It’s a vegetarian take on the hearty, humble, healthy and completely delicious traybake.
“It works well either as a veggie main or as a side with all sorts of things: piled into a jacket potato, for example, or served alongside some grilled meat, fish or tofu. It’s just the sort of dish you want to have in the fridge ready to greet you after a day out at work. It’s also lovely at room temperature, so it’s great to pile into the Tupperware for an on-the-go lunch.
“You can make and bake this in advance: it keeps in the fridge for up to 3 days, ready to be warmed through when needed.”
Serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side
- 5 medium aubergines (1.25kg)
- 120ml olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped (160g)
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1½ tsp tomato purée
- 2 green peppers, deseeded and cut into 3cm chunks (200g)
- 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (240g)
- 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1½ tsp caster sugar
- 15g coriander, roughly chopped, plus 5g extra to serve
- 4 plum tomatoes, trimmed and sliced into 1½cm-thick rounds (350g)
- salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220°C fan.
Use a vegetable peeler to peel away strips of aubergine skin from top to bottom, leaving the aubergines with alternating strips of black skin and white flesh, like a zebra. Cut widthways into round slices, 2cm thick, and place in a large bowl.
Mix well with 75ml of oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper and spread out on two large parchment-lined baking trays.
Roast for about 30 minutes, or until completely softened and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C fan.
While the aubergines are roasting, make the sauce. Put 2 tablespoons of oil into a large sauté pan and place on a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 7 minutes, until softened and lightly browned.
Add the garlic, chilli, cumin, cinnamon and tomato purée and cook for another minute, or until fragrant.
Add the peppers, chickpeas, tinned tomatoes, sugar, 200ml of water, 1¼ teaspoons of salt and a good grind of black pepper.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 18 minutes, or until the peppers have cooked through. Stir in the coriander and remove from the heat.
Spread out half the plum tomatoes and half the roasted aubergines on the base of a large baking dish, about 20 x 30cm. Top with the chickpea mixture, then layer with the remaining tomatoes and aubergines.
Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil, then cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the tomatoes have completely softened. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 20 minutes.
Top with the remaining coriander and serve either warm or at room temperature.
From Falastin: A Cookbook by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley (£28, Ebury), out now
Honey, miso and soy aubergine, with yogurt and coriander
Megan Davies says: “I created this recipe when I had a big group of girlfriends to feed; almost half of them being vegetarians. It was served in a massive dish with serving spoons for everyone to help themselves, but would also work wonderfully as a plated dish.
“The key to this dish is cooking the aubergines for a long time (like all aubergine recipes, I feel). I’d also suggest serving with some little gem lettuce and cucumber, it’s rich and punchy so pairs well with a refreshing leaf on the side.”
- 4 aubergines
- 4 tbsp runny honey (or maple syrup)
- 100g red miso paste
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 300 g natural yogurt
- 30g freshly chopped coriander (or parsley)
- 1 fresh red chilli, thinly sliced
- 30g crispy onions
- 1 tsp pul biber (or dried chilli flakes)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/Gas 6.
Quarter the aubergines lengthways and put onto the prepared baking sheet. Add the honey, miso paste, soy sauce and vegetable oil to a bowl with some black pepper and mix with a fork to combine, then pour liberally over the aubergines and rub into the wedges with your hands.
Place the dressed aubergines on the top shelf of the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour, turning and basting 3 times. If the aubergines colour too much, cover with an upside-down baking sheet. You want them to get a deep caramelization though, so fear not.
Meanwhile, season the yogurt with a pinch of salt and pepper and spread over a large serving dish.
Once the aubergines are very soft, sticky and well-coloured, transfer to the serving dish in a pile on top of the yogurt, top with the coriander, crispy onions and fresh chilli, finishing with the pul biber. Make sure you spoon over any remaining roasting sauce onto the dish as well.
From Home Bird: Simple, Low-Waste Recipes For Family And Friends by Megan Davies (£16.99, Ryland Peters & Small), out now
Parmesan aubergine (parmigiana di melanzane)
The Silver Spoon Kitchen say: “This dish is a celebration of the most famous ingredients from the south of Italy: aubergine, mozzarella, and tomatoes. In various Italian regions, this dish is cooked in different ways. The aubergine can be coated in egg and flour before frying, which is rich and delicious.
“For a lighter version (but with a less intense taste), the aubergine slices can be grilled, uncoated, instead. This dish will also serve as a perfect vegetarian main course.”
- 700g aubergines, cut lengthways into 5mm-thick slices
- 500g tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
- ½ bunch fresh basil
- pinch of granulated sugar
- 160ml olive oil
- 50g freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 100g mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly or grated
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp butter
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the aubergine slices in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and let drain for about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, put the tomatoes and 4– 5 basil leaves in a pan, season with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar to taste, and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, for 15–20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and pass the tomatoes through a food mill or strainer into a bowl. This will yield 240ml of tomato sauce.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.
Rinse the aubergine slices and pat dry. Heat one-third of the oil in a frying pan, add the aubergine slices, in batches, and fry until golden brown on both sides, adding more oil as needed.
Remove with a slotted spatula or fish slice and drain on paper towels. Repeat twice again with the remaining oil and aubergine.
Spoon 60ml of the tomato sauce into a 20 x 20-cm ovenproof dish and arrange a layer of slightly overlapping aubergine slices on top.
Sprinkle with a little of the parmesan, cover with a few slices of the mozzarella, and sprinkle a few basil leaves and 2 tablespoons of the beaten eggs on top.
Continue making layers until all the ingredients are used, ending with a layer of sliced aubergine, sprinkled parmesan, and tomato sauce. Dot with the butter and bake for 30 minutes. This dish is also good served cold.
From The Silver Spoon Classic by The Silver Spoon Kitchen (£35, Phaidon), out now
Photography: © Luke Albert; © Andrew Montgomery; Jenny Zarins; Clare Winfield © Ryland Peters & Small