Aubergines lend themselves to eastern-flavoured food

Melanie says: ‘I wouldn’t want to mislead you into thinking aubergines are easy to grow in our climate, but, with a little perseverance and a weekly liquid feed, they grow perfectly well in the almost Mediterranean environment of my greenhouse’

Baked aubergines with tzatziki and grilled halloumi

Serves 4

Ingredients

250ml Greek yoghurt
Half a large cucumber
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 lemon, juice of
A handful of fresh mint
Salt
50ml olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 medium aubergines,
diced
2 cloves garlic
400g tinned tomatoes
A pinch of powdered
cinnamon
1tspn crushed fennel
seeds
1tspn coriander seeds
1 red chilli
250g halloumi
A handful fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

Method

Cut the cucumber vertically in half and then scoop out the seeds. Slice thinly and, in a colander, sprinkle it with salt and leave to drain for about an hour (this stage is important to prevent a watery final result), before mixing with the Greek yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice and mint in a bowl. Cover and keep in your fridge until ready to use.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and then cook the chopped onion until soft and translucent. Add the cubes of aubergine and fry until almost cooked. Add the garlic, tomatoes, spices and chilli. Cook for a further 10 minutes to allow the flavours to marry.

Slice the halloumi thickly and cook on a hot griddle pan for about 3 minutes on each side or until gently browned.

To serve, heap the aubergines onto plates, top with a spoonful of tzatziki and a couple of slices of grilled halloumi. Add a squeeze of lemon and a scattering of fresh basil and serve.

More ways with aubergines

Roasted aubergines with a fig salad

Make slits in the flesh of two medium-sized aubergines and drizzle with olive oil before roasting in a moderately hot oven for 30–40 minutes or until cooked. Scoop out the flesh and cut it into cubes. In a bowl, mix the flesh, quartered figs, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and a handful of fresh rocket. In a separate bowl, mix together 3tbspn tahini, 2tbspn soy sauce, 2tbspn mirin, a tspn sugar and a splash of white wine. Pour the dressing over the figs and then refill the aubergine skins before serving.

Baba ganoush

Halve two medium-sized aubergines, drizzle them with olive oil and roast in a moderately hot oven for 30–40 minutes or until cooked. Peel off the skin and place the flesh in a blender with a clove of crushed garlic (or two if you prefer a sharper bite). Add the juice and zest of one lemon and seasoning, then slowly pour in enough olive oil to create a smooth consistency (about 150ml). Serve scattered with pomegranate seeds and hot pitta bread.

* This article was first published in Country Life on July 16 2014