These braised aubergines bring you directly to the Mediterranean coastline. The lovely soft texture from the braised aubergines, together with the acidity from the toppings, and the caramelised sugar and balsamic vinegar. Scattered with fresh basil and toasted pine nuts a great lunch with some bread to dip into these lovely juices, or have it as a main meal by adding some linguine to it.
I love this dish because of it's great balance of flavours. Tangy, sweet, smokey, and herby. A true Mediterranean gem. Aubergines are a great vegetable to cook with in the vegan kitchen. It is the texture that makes the great difference.
pre-salting or not...
There are many different opinions on salting or not salting your aubergines. Every chef has his or her reason for doing so, or for skipping it. I normally tend to skip it. Pre-salting was always done to extract the bitterness out of the fruit (yes, aubergine is a fruit). But nowadays the bitterness has been bred out of the aubergines. So there is no need to pre-salt them any more. Unless you want to extract water from the aubergine before cooking. In this particular recipe I wouldn't do so, keeping the water in the aubergine helps the braising process.
There are some delicious aubergine dishes to be found on my website. Like the Roasted aubergine with cauliflower rice, or in a complete different style the Moroccan Zaalouk, or Chinese spiced aubergine. All very different, and all very delicious!!
What to drink with braised aubergines...
If you serve this dish (sweet and sour profile) as a main dish I would go for a medium to full bodied oaked red. A Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch would work. But you might want to stay within the region and pair with an Italian red. A Barbaresco (Nebbiolo), or a Valpolicella. If you serve this dish as a light lunch I would definitely go for a Rose, maybe a Sangiovese rose, to keep it within Italy.
Of course this recipe is great for adjusting to your liking. Be creative! and Let me know how you went in comments below. Don't forget to add @haricoco1 if you post your creation to Instagram. Enjoy!
Mediterranean braised aubergine
- 1 large or 2 small aubergines
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- 1 onion roughly chopped
- 5 tablespoons olive oil divided.
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 spring onions
- ½ tablespoon capers
- ½ tablespoon green olives pitted
- bunch of basil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon water
- 2 teaspoon sugar divided
- Cut 1 large aubergine in half, and again in half (so 4 quarters) , or 2 small aubergines in halves.
- Prepare the aubergines in an oven dish with salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Preheat oven to 190C / 375F
- Sauté the onion in a frying pan on medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt, until softened (8-10 minutes)
- Add the cherry tomatoes and let them slightly brown.
- Press the cherry tomatoes lightly so they realise a little of their juice (without completely squashing them)
- Add balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon of sugar, and reduce the juice a little bit.
- Divide the cherry tomato mixture on top of the aubergine parts.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of water with 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon olive oil, and add this to the oven dish. Cover oven dish tightly with aluminium foil and bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes
- After 15 minutes take the oven dish out, carefully lift the foil, and with a spoon put some of the liquid onto the aubergines, close the foil tightly and bake again for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes repeat the basting one more time, and bake for another 10 minutes covered with foil.
- After 10 minutes, take off the foil and bake for 20 - 30 minutes uncovered, until the aubergines are soft, and the liquid lightly caramelised.
- During baking-time prepare a bowl with: Sliced spring onions, Sliced olives, and capers, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and lemon juice, salt and pepper, and teared up basil.
- Lightly toast the pine nuts.
- When aubergines are ready, put them on a plate drizzle any left over liquid on top, and top with the olive mixture, scatter over the pine nuts and some left over basil leaves.
This Aubergine recipe is part of my new series; 'Travels of taste'. We use our taste buds to travel the world and discover the use of our senses and imaginations to meet other cultures through food. So today we find ourselves around the Mediterranean. If you are ready to imagine yourself travelling around the Mediterranean while sensing its salty air & hot summers and tasting its incredible variety of fresh food. Check out my full Mediterranean 'travels of taste' post; >>> The Med; Olive oil, herbs & fresh produce.