Chilli and Rosemary Aubergine Parcels with Smokey Mash


For all of my American friends  - an aubergine is an eggplant (something that took me a bit of time to sort out when we moved overseas !).  

I spent years despising eggplants - because, as a vegetarian - they were often served as a "meat replacement" in many mid to high end restarurants.  Most places in those early years had no idea how to prepare them properly - and I often found them too salty and tough.  When we moved to Japan I discovered Japanese egpplant or nasu.  Nasu was amazing - and I loved how the japanese prepared it with a light miso sauce (nasu-miso).  This new found appreciation  led me to search for more "western" eggplants recipes - this is one of my favorites.  It is definitely dinner-party worthy…..and is absolutely fabulous with a simple green salad and a hearty red wine.  

Tip: When buying eggplants, be sure to look for medium-size ones, as larger eggplants can be watery and bitter.

The Recipe:

For the Aubergine Parcels

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed with 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly toasted
  • 2 red chilies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 500 grams buffalo mozzarella

For the Smoky Mash

  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 900 grams potatoes, such as desiree or maris piper
  • 100 grams butter, diced
  • 100 ml hot double cream
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 20 capers, optional

To make the parcels, slice the aubergines lengthways into 1/2-1 cm slices (you need 8 slices in all), lightly brush both sides with a little of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a griddle pan (or barbecue, weather permitting) over a medium heat and cook the aubergine in batches until golden and tender (about 2 mins on each side). Transfer to a shallow dish.

Strip the leaves from the rosemary and finely chop, then add to the crushed garlic in a mortar and pestle, along with the fennel seeds and chillies and crush. Add remaining olive oil and mix well. Pour the marinade over the aubergines and mix through. Leave to marinate for 30 mins or overnight in the fridge.

To make the mash, prick the aubergines all over with a fork and char over a gas flame, griddle or barbecue, turning frequently, until blackened. If you have an electric cooker, roast the aubergines in a hot oven, although you won't achieve the same smoky flavour. Place the aubergines in a colander and leave to cool. Cut in half lengthways and, using a spoon, scoop out and finely chop the flesh and place in a colander to drain away any bitter juices. If you have a steamer, peel the potatoes and cut into 4cm pieces. Steam until cooked, about 30 mins. Shake any excess water from the potatoes and place in a pan or flat-bottomed bowl, (if you don't own a steamer, place the potatoes in a large pan, cover with water, add a pinch of salt, bring to the boil and simmer until tender, about 15-25 mins. Drain well and return the potatoes to the pan, place over a low heat and leave for a minute or so to remove any excess water. Turn off the heat.) Add the butter and, using a potato masher, mash until lump-free. Pour in the hot cream or milk and beat with a wooden spoon until soft and fluffy. Stir through the aubergine pulp, season with sea salt and pepper, keep warm.

Remove the aubergines from the marinade and lay them flat on a work surface. (Reserve the marinade for serving.) Tear the mozzarella into 8 pieces and place one on the end of each aubergine. Roll up to enclose - and if you have some rosemary left, secure the parcels with a sprig, for a professional touch! Place on a baking tray and warm under a hot grill or oven until the cheese begins to melt.

Serve the aubergine parcels on the smoky mash, drizzled with the reserved marinade. 

**Caper berries are lovely with this dish too.

From: The Modern Vegetarian by Maria Elia

The Modern Vegetarian: Food Adventures for the Contemporary Palate: Over 120 Recipes to Wake Up Your Palate

© the hill family 2013