|smoky chargrilled aubergine salad|
There is a dish on the menus of Turkish restaurants called Hünkar Beğendi. I don’t read Turkish, but I understand it to mean “the Sultan’s Delight“; a simple lamb stew served on a bed of creamy aubergine puree. But whenever I see these words, I translate them in my head as “whole hunk of love on a plate” because this peasant adores the stuff.
Sadly, the aubergine puree is beyond my cooking skills, because try as I might, the beautiful pale, smooth and creamy puree becomes an unappetising beige lumpy (or even worse – stringy) porridge in my hands. It tastes nice but just doesn’t look very appealing. Needless to say, I am working on it. (Clearly I would never get a job in a Sultan’s kitchen!)
Instead, I make a salad of chargrilled aubergine (much easier) topped with a few hunks of beyaz peynir or feta cheese and sprinkled with fresh herbs (mint and basil) and a few Aleppo pepper flakes to gee things up. It was the perfect salad with roasted lamb rump steaks.
Skill level: Easy
2 x aubergines (or more if using the smaller, thin Turkish variety)
juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 x garlic clove, very finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
roughly 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, torn
4-5 x fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
100g beyaz peynir or feta cheese, crumbled
½ tsp Aleppo pepper (or chilli flakes)
white balsamic vinegar, to serve (optional)
- Heat your grill until hot, on a medium heat.
- Cut the aubergines into rounds about 3 to 4 millimetres thick. Brush them on both sides with a little olive oil, (and the grill pan if not using a grilling rack).
- Grill the aubergines rounds in batches until browned on each side. They should be cooked through and lightly charred around the edges but not burnt!
- Remove the cooked aubergines to a shallow dish and drizzle with olive oil, the lemon, garlic and a little seasoning. (If you need to do many batches then it is worth keeping the cooked aubergine warm in a low oven.)
- Continue to cook the remaining aubergine and add to those cooked, tossing them gently each time to dress with the oil and lemon juice. You may need to add more olive oil if necessary.
- Before serving, stir through the fresh herbs, crumbled cheese and the Aleppo pepper.
- Serve with a little white balsamic vinegar drizzled over the salad.