Burnt aubergine, roasted pepper and goats’ cheese stack

Finished-ProductThe weather is getting pleasant: it’s time to cook some lighter meals for the lighter evenings!

This is a very simple dish, but really tasty and perfect for a summer evening. It’s a stack with a base of burnt aubergines – cooked on a hob in such a way as to give them a chargrilled flavour – roasted peppers, some caramelised onions, and grilled goats cheese. We served it with a simple salad, a balsamic dressing, and a piece of homemade sourdough ciabatta.

(No recipe for the ciabatta yet – I’ve tried half a dozen and am still refining it until I’m 100% happy. Nearly there!!)

This will make enough for four portions, which you can prepare in advance, refrigerate and then heat the next day, and you can stack them up either in a stainless steel food ring, or in a deep ramekin.

Ingredients

2 x aubergines
3 x peppers (red, yellow, or orange)
1 x red onion, finely sliced
1 x tsp red wine vinegar
4 x tbsp olive oil
Knob of butter
Small wheel of goats’ cheese

Burnt Aubergines

The aim with the aubergines is to cook them right through, but burn the skin so that you get that nice charred taste permeating the soft flesh. We’ve tried this a few ways and have ended up smoking our house out during various failed attempts at baba ganoush! The method that tends to work for me best is as follows:

Prick the aubergines a couple of times with a fork and then wrap them up in about 2 layers of foil, making sure they’re sealed really tight. Use good quality foil, as cheap stuff can melt pretty horribly!

Then heat the aubergines on the hob over a medium flame for about 30 minutes, turning them every 7 or 8 minutes, so that they get cooked evenly. Steam will escape, you may even get the odd drip of moisture coming out, and they will get increasingly delicate until they feel in danger of collapsing entirely. (The ones in the pic below were a little less burnt and smoky than usual – you may need to go longer to get them charred enough.)

Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

When cool enough to handle, cut the aubergines open and pull out the flesh in strips, discarding (or eating!!) the smoky skin. Leave the flesh to drain in a sieve for about 30 minutes.

Roasted Peppers

Cut the peppers in half, discarding the seeds and core. Place them on a baking tray and coat with 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Roast in the oven at 220°C for 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally. They should get charred and tender.

Pop them in a plastic food bag and seal it. Leave until cool – the steam in the sealed bag will make the skins easier to peel off. Once cooled, remove the skins and cut into slices.

Caramelised onions

Gently heat 2 tsp of oil and the butter in a pan and then slowly sweat the onions until they shrivel and caramelise, making sure not to let them burn. This may take about 45 minutes. Then deglaze the pan with the red wine vinegar and set aside.

Assembly

Stir the onions into the aubergine and season with a little salt and plenty of pepper.

Lightly oil your food ring or ramekin and then layer up the vegetables. You want the peppers at the top and the aubergine mix at the bottom, so if using a ramekin, put the peppers in first. Pack the aubergines in and press down a little. This gives a slightly more solid base.

If you’re eating them straight away, they may still have retained a little heat. But if you’re reheating them from cold, bake them in the ramekins for about 15 minutes at 180°C, then carefully turn them out, add the goats cheese to the top and grill until the cheese melts and begins to go lightly brown. They may collapse a little, the cheese will run. That’s fine… call it rustic!

Enjoy!

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