I was just hoping it would last more than a few days! Maybe you should picture me a couple of days ago walking cheerfully along Dublin streets with a light jacket, ballet shoes and sans parapluie... and then walking sadly a few minutes later in the drenching rain.
Let's hope Summer was not just visiting for a few days! So before I plan to make myself a boat to navigate through the streets of rainy Dublin, I will do with boat shaped delicious graffiti aubergines (or eggplants as some of you know them).
I have been cooking with aubergines quite a bit recently as it is just in season. And I was really glad to stumble upon graffiti aubergines during the week as I like their look and the whiteness of their flesh. Cutting through them is wonderful as it suddenly brings beautiful fresh and earthy smells. And when it cooks, I can close my eyes for a bit (not too long, I do not want the food to burn) and be transported back in France during the Summer. One of those Summers when slices of aubergines are sliced, floured and fried in hot oil before being devoured with grilled meats and tomato salads at a big family table, or when a ratatouille is stewing in the kitchen and the smell of it travels through all the rooms and makes you want to rush to the pot and steal a spoonful of this delicious dish.
I have baked aubergines a few times now with a stuffing of vegetables and quinoa and it works wonders. It is delicious and comforting.
I also found some delicious courgettes so I could use some in the recipe. It is 'Summer' here after all so I guess it is alright to use a Summer vegetable like courgette. Right? My grandmother did not seem to agree when I spoke to her on the phone this week: 'Tu manges de la courgette en mai toi?' (you eat courgettes in May?). I had to tell her that Summer started this month here (while in France, it will start on 21st June; a bit more reasonable date, no?) so I feel I can probably start eating Summer vegetables. That really made her laugh. My 85-year old grandparents have a garden filled with wonderful fruit and vegetables in season so I really get why she laughed.
Scroll down to find a delicious recipe for baked graffiti aubergines with a stuffing of quinoa, vegetables and feta cheese. Let me know if you tried it and if you too laughed because I used courgettes in May.
Ingredients (serves 4)
2 graffiti aubergines / eggplants (250g to 300g each; regular aubergines will do)
5 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots (finely chopped)
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 small courgette / zucchini (grated)
1/2 red pepper / capsicum (diced, about 5mm x 5mm)
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp lemon juice
100g feta cheese
zahtar (a blend of herbs, sesame seeds, salt and spices; can be replaced for a bit of dried oregano and/or thyme)
4 tbsp greek yoghurt (to serve, optional)
1. Let's start with cooking the quinoa. Put it in a small saucepan with the 300ml water over high heat. Bring to the boil. Then, reduce to a medium heat, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stir every now and then. When cooked and the water is absorbed, uncover and set aside.
2. Cut the aubergines lengthways and carve the flesh inside to give them little boat shapes. Place the carved halves in a large baking dish. Chop the carved flesh roughly and toss it in a bowl together with the grated courgette and diced red pepper.
3. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
Place a large frying pan over medium heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, add the shallots and stir for 3 minutes until soft and golden. Add in the dried chilli flakes and stir for 30 seconds. Pour in the aubergine flesh, courgette and red pepper, the tomato puree and lemon juice, mix well together and cook for 5 minutes. Stir every minute and pour in 1 or 2 tablespoons of water half way through cooking to add a bit of moisture. After the vegetables have cooked, add the quinoa, mix well and cook for one more minute. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
4. Mash the feta cheese and three tablespoons of olive oil together with the back of a fork in a small plate.
Fill the halved and carved aubergines with the vegetable and quinoa stuffing. Divide the feta cheese mixture in four and spread it on top of the stuffing. Sprinkle some zahtar on top of the cheese.
Put the dish on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Serve each baked half aubergine with a tablespoon of greek yoghurt.
This recipe works really well for a light lunch. It is also delicious for a brunch served with a poached or fried egg on top and a side of these delicious very easy roasted tomatoes.