Traditionally, aubergines would have been cooked in the dying embers of an open fire or barbecue for the most wonderful smoky flavour. If you have a gas hob then you can cook the whole aubergine directly on a low flame, but grilling makes for a much easier and just as tasty alternative.

Awesome Aubergines

Shillingford Organics knows a thing or two when it comes to aubergines. We talked to Bridget Rendall about these bulbous beauties;

“Eggplant, Brinjal or Aubergine, as they are referred to in Britain, are pear-shaped fruit from the large plant of the nightshade family, which is cooked and served as a vegetable. The most common variety has a smooth, shiny purple to black skin. However, there are several varieties including Striped and Green varieties which we have also grown at Shillingford Organics. Although we haven’t grown the white variety they are said to be sweeter than most.

The older the fruit gets the more bitter it

can become. If this is the case, sprinkle with salt to extract the bitterness and wash before use. They tend to oxidize very quickly so remember to prepare them as you need them. The nightshade family also includes potatoes and tomatoes, so like these, aubergines can be cooked in many ways; roasted, fried, grilled or sautéed.”

Serves 4-6

100g dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight

1 litre water, plus 2–6 tbsp extra Quarter tsp bicarbonate of soda 350g aubergine 1.5 tsp harissa paste 3 tbsp olive oil 1 garlic clove, sliced 1 tbsp tahini Salt and cayenne pepper


2 tsp pine nuts, lightly toasted Few pomegranate seeds

1 Drain the soaked chickpeas into a colander then tip into a pan. Pour in the water then stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Slowly bring to the boil, skim off any scum with a spoon then half cover with a lid and simmer for 45–75 mins or until the chickpeas are soft.

2 Meanwhile prick either end of the aubergine two or three times with a fork then cook on a piece of foil on the base of the grill or broiling pan under a preheated grill, for about 15 mins, turning until the skin is blackened and charred and the centre is soft. Set aside to cool.

3 Drain the cooked chickpeas into a colander, cover with a dish towel and leave to cool for 30 mins.

4 Cut the aubergine in half lengthways then peel off the charred skin. Add the soft flesh to the bowl of a food processor. Tip in the chickpeas then add 1 tsp harissa and 2 tbsp oil, the garlic, tahini, 2 tbsp fresh water and salt and cayenne pepper. Blitz together until smooth.

5 Taste and adjust the seasoning and add more fresh water if needed. Blitz again until very smooth. Spoon into a bowl and swirl the top with the back of a spoon.

6 Mix the remaining harissa into the remaining oil, drizzle over the top and sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. Serve with red pepper, red onion and warm flatbread dippers.

The Hummus Cookbook by Sara Lewis, published by Anness Publishing

Shillingford Organics Recipe Tip

"Try them sautéed then use as a pizza topping or in Greek moussaka, a great addition to ratatouille, or try perfecting your own recipe for an alternative to meat. One of our favourite ways to use them is in a vegan curry. Prick each aubergine all over, drizzle with a little olive oil, roast, scoop out the meaty content and mix with a couple of tins of tomatoes and juice, add a blend of spices and near the end of cooking time add a very good size bunch of spinach."


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