I created this roasted aubergine with tomato, pine nut & olive topping recipe because whenever I see aubergines in the store, there’s something about their shiny dark purple skin that compels me to put one in my basket.
This is probably no coincidence. Nature is clever and had this in mind (although it was aiming for birds and bees) when it created the beautiful pigmented anthocyanins which give aubergines and many other fruit and vegetables their colour.
Aside from producing pretty pigments, anthocyanins have some hugely beneficial antioxidant properties that can help protect against many of the prevalent chronic diseases afflicting the western world today. This is also why eating a range of colourful fruit and vegetables is such an important part of maintaining a healthy body.
Surprisingly though, up until now there were no aubergine recipes on Swoon Food! So today aubergines get to be the star of the show.
The secret to cooking aubergine is to cook it for much longer than you think you need to. If you’re not an aubergine fan it could be that you just haven’t tried it properly cooked yet. The flesh needs to lose it’s rubberiness and become so soft and melty that it falls away from the skin. The easiest way to achieve this is to cut it in half, score the fleshy side, lightly brush with oil and roast it in a hot oven for the good part of an hour.
Now that I’m eating entirely plant based, this recipe naturally had to fit with that. I also wanted it to be completely sugar and inflammatory foods free so that I could use it in the plant based menu of my 10 Day Sugar Cleanse program.
This meant as well as being plant based, sugar, dairy, gluten and grain free, it also had to be soy free – as much as I love a miso topped aubergine!
You might be thinking, is soy really that inflammatory?
Well the short answer is it depends what kind of soy. If you’re going to eat soy it’s best to opt for organic, GMO free where possible, and this can be very beneficial for many people. However, there are also many who can’t even tolerate that kind, myself included. So for my 10 Day Sugar Cleanse program we err on the safe side and leave it out.
When considering flavours that go well with aubergine, ingredients such as tomatoes, olives, pine nuts, fresh rosemary and parsley all sprung to mind.
This made me think of the classic Italian dish puttanesca, as well as a chunky tomato pesto. So I combined the two to create a flavoursome topping to compliment aubergine’s soft mellow flavour.
To top it all off I whipped up a creamy cashew sauce, which is so versatile if you have any leftovers it can be tossed with pasta or zoodles, drizzled over falafel, used as a salad dressing or drizzled over caramelised sweet potatoes with crispy chickpeas.
Enjoy these stuffed aubergines straight from the oven while still warm, and serve with a big green side salad.
I hope you enjoy this aubergine recipe, and if you make it be sure to come back and tell me what you think in the comments below.
ROASTED AUBERGINE WITH TOMATO, PINE NUT & OLIVE TOPPING
Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes
2 tsp avocado, macadamia or coconut oil
1 red onion
1 clove garlic
1 handful white button mushrooms
1 handful fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup pitted black olives
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 pinch cayenne pepper
pink Himalayan salt & black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp savoury yeast flakes
1 handful fresh parsley
1 handful fresh thyme
1/4 cup pine nuts
Creamy Cashew Sauce
1/3 cup cashews
1/3 cup water
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp lemon juice
pinch of pink Himalayan salt
To roast the aubergine:
Preheat the oven to 180ºC fan bake.
Cut the aubergine in half lengthways and score the flesh so you end up with a diamond pattern.
Lightly brush the cut surfaces with a little oil the place the aubergine on a lined baking tray and into the centre of the oven to roast for approximately 40 to 50 minutes. The aubergine is ready when the cut sides turn golden and the flesh becomes all soft and melty. If it’s still firm and rubbery, return it to the oven and keep cooking until you can pull the flesh out with just a fork.
To make the topping:
Toast the pine nuts by placing on a lined tray in the oven (alongside the aubergine) for 5 to 10 minutes.
Finely cut the onion, crush the garlic, cut the mushrooms and tomatoes into small pieces, roughly chop the parsley and strip the leaves off the thyme (do this by running your thumb and first finger down the stalk).
Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes or so until the onion starts to soften then add the garlic, mushrooms and tomato. If it starts to get too dry, add 1/4 cup of water. Cook a few more minutes, then add the olives, spices, yeast flakes, and season with salt & pepper.
Lastly fold in the herbs and pine nuts and remove from heat.
To make the creamy cashew sauce:
Make the creamy cashew sauce by placing all the ingredients into a high speed blender and blend on high until smooth. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Place the aubergine halves on serving plates, pile up a generous helping of puttanesca topping on each, and drizzle with the creamy cashew sauce.
Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.