A Middle Eastern culinary gem, the aubergine is in vogue. But is its beauty more than skin deep?
What’s So Good About Them?
With cookbooks from writers such as Yotam Ottolenghi and Sabrina Ghayour fuelling our love of Middle Eastern food, aubergines are in the spotlight. It’s their versatility as well as their deep colour that makes them so appealing.
Roasted, baked, grilled or stewed, their flesh turns meltingly tender, absorbing all the flavours of the ingredients it’s cooked with.
They’re ideal for low-carb diets, too – cut into long, thin slices, they can be used instead of pasta in lasagne. Baked whole, or halved and stuffed, they make a satisfying alternative to jacket potatoes. When griddled in thick slices, they take on a ‘meat-like’ texture, so are good for vegans. Plus they have loads of nutritional benefits…
» The purple pigment in the skin is rich in antioxidants helping to fight cancer and age-related illnesses.
» High in fibre and low in fat, they’re good for managing type 2 diabetes and for weight loss. One-third of a medium aubergine (approx 100g) is one of your five-a-day, has only 25 cals and provides 9% of your daily recommended fibre intake.
» Containing copper, magnesium and manganese, they boost the immune system, keep your bones strong and energy levels high.
Be Careful, Though…
Although an aubergine’s spongy texture absorbs flavour, it soaks up fat, too. To keep this to a minimum, lightly brush with oil or spritz with a little spray oil rather than pouring oil into the pan. Sprinkling aubergines with salt and leaving them to stand for 30 mins will draw out excess moisture helping them to absorb less fat. Rinse off the salt thoroughly before using. Oxalate, present in many darkly coloured fruit and veg, can inhibit the absorption of calcium and contribute to the formation of kidney stones. So, if prone to kidney problems, eat in moderation.
Prep time 25 mins
Cooking time 35 mins
You Will Need
» 1 onion, chopped
» 3 tbsp olive oil
» 2 garlic cloves, crushed
» 400g can chopped tomatoes
» 1 tbsp tomato purée
» Pinch of sugar
» 2 large aubergines
» 60g pitted olives, chopped
» 60g mozzarella, grated
» 10 basil leaves, shredded
WHAT TO DO
1 Fry the onion in 1 tbsp of the oil for 5 mins, to soften. Add the garlic, tomatoes, purée and sugar and simmer, uncovered, for 10 mins, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly. Season.
2 Cut each aubergine lengthways into 8 thin slices. Pick out the largest 12 slices, brush both sides with the remaining oil and cook on a hot griddle pan, or under the grill, until browned and softened. Set aside. Cook the remaining smaller slices, then chop and put in a bowl.
3 Add the olives and 4 tbsp of the tomato mixture to the chopped aubergine and stir to mix. Spoon half the remaining
tomato sauce into the base of a baking dish.
4 Heat the oven to 200°C, Gas 6. Lay the aubergine slices out on a board and divide the tomato and aubergine mixture between them. Sprinkle with half the grated mozzarella and half the shredded basil. Roll up each slice.
5 Pack the rolls in the dish, spoon remaining tomato sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella. Bake for 20 mins until the rolls are hot and cheese has melted. Scatter with remaining basil, to serve.
154 calories 10.5g fat (2.5g sat) 7.5g carbs
Prep time 5 mins
Cooking time 10 mins
You Will Need
» 200-400ml vegetable oil (it should only fill 1⁄3 of pan)
» 1 large aubergine, very thinly sliced
» ½ tsp sea salt
WHAT TO DO
1 Heat oil in a saucepan until hot (180°C-190°C if you have a thermometer) and test with a small piece of aubergine (the oil should sizzle and turn golden as it goes in).
2 Cook slices in 3 batches, set on kitchen paper to soak up excess oil and sprinkle with salt to serve.
170 calories 17g fat (1g sat) 1.5g carbs