Veg with edge: Roasted and smoked whole aubergine with greens and vegan aioli
When using whole vegetables, it’s key to bring them to life with seasoning or sauces, and this aïoli really complements the succulent star of the show.
SERVES 2 as a side
FOR THE AUBERGINE AND GREENS
1 large aubergine, or 2 small ones
4 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
a pinch of chilli flakes
1-2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
5-6 stems of your chosen greens (eg, kale, chard, spring greens)
1 lemon, juice and zest
a handful of crushed nuts (I love pistachios)
FOR THE AIOLI
120g cashews, soaked overnight in cold water (or for 4 hours in boiling water)
approx 100ml water (or more to loosen)
3 cloves of garlic
2 tsp dijon mustard
½ tsp apple cider vinegar
½ – 1 lemon, juiced, plus a
dash of zest
a pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 220C/ 200C fan/gas 7. To make the aïoli, put the cashews in a blender with the 100ml water, garlic, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice and zest plus a good pinch of salt and blend to a smooth creamy texture. Taste and adjust the seasonings and liquid if necessary. It should be thick but pourable. Place in a jar or airtight container and pop into the fridge while you make the rest of the dish.
- Pierce your aubergine all over (to prevent it exploding while cooking) then place on a baking tray and roast on the middle shelf for about 10 minutes, then remove.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, paprika, cumin, chilli flakes, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Where you pierced the aubergine, very slightly and carefully pull the incisions apart. Pour some marinade into each hole then roast the aubergine for a further 20 minutes. You will notice it start to shrivel slightly and ooze some juice – this is good.
- To cook the greens, either steam or lightly boil in salted water. Once they’re a vibrant green, remove and blanch under cold water to stop the cooking process. If you want your greens hot, don’t run them under water for too long.
- Place them in a bowl with the lemon juice, zest and a good grind of salt and pepper then cover to keep warm.
- Remove the aubergine from the oven. You can serve it whole or sliced lengthways down the middle. Serve with the greens, a dollop of aïoli, a sprinkle of crushed nuts and a drizzle of olive oil to bring it even more to life.