Yotam Ottolenghi’s aubergine recipes (2024)

The mighty aubergine never ceases to surprise. This versatile vegetable so easily adapts to its purpose – as a filling, dressing, dip and more – it’s hard to think of an instance when you wouldn’t want to use it. Still, smoke and the flavour of the grill are what aubergine does best, so give yours some quality time over an open fire, on a barbecue, in a griddle pan or in a very hot oven. If you resist the temptation to separate them from the heat before they are totally deflated and almost burnt, you’ll be able to enjoy those silky strands of intense flavour in a multitude of exciting ways.

Iceberg wedges with aubergine cream and super crunchy topping (pictured above)

There’s a bucketful of crisp textures in this salad, and one sharp, creamy dressing that brings everything together nicely. It was inspired by a dish I had at Aloette, a splendid restaurant in Toronto, Canada.

Prep 25 min
Cook 1 hr
Serves 4 as a side

1 small head iceberg lettuce (350g), cut into 12 wedges
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper
25g parmesan
, finely grated
45g rainbow radishes, peeled and thinly sliced (ideally on a mandoline), or use normal radishes
2 small avocados, stoned, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small handful chives, cut into 1½cm lengths

For the aubergine cream
2 medium aubergines (600g)
2½ tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
50g greek yoghurt
2 tsp dijon mustard
60ml olive oil

For the crunchy topping
1 tbsp olive oil
60g skin-on almonds, roughly chopped
100g sourdough, crusts removed, blitzed into coarse crumbs, to get 60g
50g pumpkin seeds
⅓ tsp urfa chilli

First make the aubergine cream. Put a well-greased griddle pan on a high heat and ventilate your kitchen. Poke the aubergines with a fork seven or eight times all over and, once the pan is smoking, grill them for about 45 minutes, turning occasionally, until the outsides are completely charred and the insides soft.

Transfer to a sieve set over a bowl and, once cool enough to handle, remove the flesh; discard the stems and as much of the charred skin as you can. Measure out 200g aubergine flesh, and reserve any excess for another use.

Transfer to a food processor with the remaining cream ingredients, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper, and blitz smooth.

Meanwhile, make the topping. Put the oil in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the almonds and cook, stirring often, for about two minutes. Add the bread, pumpkin seeds and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring continuously, for five minutes more, until golden. Add the chilli, cook for another 30 seconds, then transfer to a tray and leave to cool completely.

To assemble, divide the lettuce wedges between four plates. Top each portion with a teaspoon and a half of oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Spoon over the aubergine cream, followed by the parmesan, radishes and avocado. Sprinkle again lightly with salt and pepper, then drizzle the last two tablespoons of oil on top. Scatter over the chives and a generous helping of the crunchy topping, and serve any extra alongside.

Aubergine puree with quick pickled cucumber, tahini and soy

Yotam Ottolenghi’s aubergine recipes (1)

Cutting the aubergines in half and roasting them in the oven is a nifty trick if you don’t have a griddle pan or simply want to avoid a smoky kitchen. But by all means cook them on an outdoor barbecue if you’re looking for some serious smoke.

Prep 10 min
Pickle 1 hr
Cook 1 hr 5 min
Serves 4

1 medium cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1½cm cubes
1 green chilli, finely sliced into rounds, seeds and all
1 lime – shave off 4 thin strips of peel, then cut into wedges, to serve
2 tbsp rice vinegar

4 medium aubergines, cut in half lengthways
4½ tbsp olive oil
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
3 tbsp mint leaves, roughly torn
½ tsp nigella seeds

For the tahini soy dressing
30g tahini
2 tsp soy sauce, plus 1 tbsp extra to serve
2 tsp mirin
2 tsp rice-wine vinegar

Heat the oven to its highest setting – around 230C fan. Mix the cucumber and chilli with the lime peel, vinegar and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and leave to pickle for at least an hour.

Cut deep cross-hatches into the flesh side of each aubergine half, season with three tablespoons of the olive oil and half a teaspoon of salt, and lay cut side up on an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper. Roast for 40 minutes, until soft and well browned, then transfer to a large bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to soften for 20 minutes.

While the aubergine is roasting, whisk all the dressing ingredients with two teaspoons of water until you have a very smooth sauce (it might seize up a bit at first, but will become smooth as you whisk).

Scoop out the aubergine flesh into a clean bowl – discard the skin and stalks. Add the garlic, the pickling liquid from the cucumbers and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt, and stir everything together. Spread the aubergine mixture on a platter, then drizzle over the dressing, followed by the remaining tablespoon and a half of olive oil and the final tablespoon of soy sauce.

Remove and discard the lime skin from the pickle, then spoon the pickled cucumbers and chillies on top. Finish with the mint and nigella seeds, and serve with the lime wedges for squeezing over.

Smoky aubergine, feta and baharat parcels

Yotam Ottolenghi’s aubergine recipes (2)

The combination of potato, cheese and smoky aubergine makes these filo parcels particularly hard to resist. They can be put together a few hours ahead of time and baked when you need them. Serve as a snack with a squeeze of lemon.

Prep 20 min
Cook 2 hr
Makes 10, to serve 4

400g medium baking potatoes (ie, about 2)
900g aubergines (ie, 4 medium ones)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
, peeled and finely chopped (200g net weight)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tsp baharat spice mix
20g tarragon leaves
, roughly chopped
35g basil leaves, roughly chopped
200g feta, broken into roughly 1cm pieces
130g mature cheddar, roughly grated
Salt and black pepper
2 packs of feuilles de filo pastry
– you’ll need about 16-17 sheets measuring 39cm x 30cm
120g unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp nigella seeds

Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/465F/gas 9. Bake the potatoes for 45 minutes to an hour, until cooked through. Once cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the flesh into a large bowl. You should have about 300g cooked flesh.

Meanwhile, put a griddle pan on a high heat. Once hot, lay in the aubergines and grill for about 45 minutes, until they are smoking, the flesh is completely soft and the skin charred. Remove from the heat and, once cool enough to handle, remove the flesh; discard the stems and skin. Put the aubergine flesh in a colander and leave for 30 minutes, pressing out and discarding any liquid. You should have about 250g flesh. Mix this with the potato.

Put the oil in a medium frying pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, fry the onion for eight minutes, until soft and golden brown. Add the garlic and baharat spice mix, fry for two minutes, until fragrant, then add to the aubergine mixture along with the herbs, cheeses, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper, and mix together.

Take two sheets of filo and cut them both in half widthways, so you have four 20cm x 30cm rectangles. Brush three of the sheets with the butter. Spoon 100g of the filling into the centre of one sheet, and spread the mix into an 8-9cm circle that’s 2-3cm thick. Fold the two edges of the pastry on the left and right over the filling, then fold over the top and bottom edges, fully encasing the filling. Turn the parcel upside down (ie, edges down) and lay it on top of a second buttered filo sheet. Wrap it up again in exactly the same way, then put upside down on the third buttered filo sheet and wrap again. Brush the top with butter and lay in a high-sided baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Repeat with the remaining filo, butter and filling, using up the spare filo rectangle from the first batch as you go. You may need two trays to accommodate all the parcels.

Sprinkle each parcel with nigella seeds and bake for 25-30 minutes, until crisp and golden brown (some of the parcels may split slightly, but any butter that seeps out will get drawn back in as they cool). Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s aubergine recipes (2024)
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