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Summer BBQ Aubergine

Don't let this weather fool you... It's officially BBQ season! And to bring it in I came up with a delicious marinade, with handy baking instructions for when it's a little too rainy to light up the BBQ... Sweet and spicy with plenty of umami, this sauce pairs perfectly with the smoky flavour of a BBQ grill, but works just as well oven baked, and will impress all your guests!

Serves 2

Takes 35 minutes (10 prep, 25 cook)

2 aubergines

4 pitted dates

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

50ml olive oil

25ml soy sauce

25ml rice vinegar

1 tbsp tahini

1 fresh chilli

2 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely diced

1 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

NOTE: If you are barbequing the aubergine, follow all the steps below until it comes to cooking them, then grill them on the BBQ, flipping halfway, until cooked - about 10-15 minutes on well prepared coals.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Cut the aubergine into 1cm rounds, lay them in a shallow dish and cover with boiling water to blanch them. Leave for 5-10 minutes, keeping them fully submerged.

You can also halve the aubergines and hedgehog them (cut a 1cm grid in the flesh, making sure not to penetrate the outer skin), following the same steps listed above to blanch them.

Chop the dates and soak them in boiling water for 5 minutes.

Toast the cumin and fennel seeds on a high heat to release their flavour, then grind them in a pestle and mortar. If you don't have anything to grind them with, use them as they are.

In a small jug, whisk together the oil, soy sauce, vinegar and tahini until they are well combined.

Finely sliced both the chilli and garlic and add them to the jug with the finely diced ginger. Drain the dates and add them to the jug with the salt and pepper, mixing well it all well.

If you have cut the aubergine into rounds, dip the rounds in the marinade, fully covering them, and lay them on a baking tray. If you have hedgehogged the aubergine halves, spread the cuts in the aubergine and make sure to get the marinade in as many of the splits as possible. Make sure to retain some of the marinade to serve with.

Bake the aubergine for 20-25 minutes, checking that they're fully cooked. The aubergine halves might need 5 minutes longer, check how cooked the flesh is by poking it with a knife - it should give easily under pressure.

Serve the aubergine right away, paired with my green bruschetta as a delicious summer meal.


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