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Aubergine, Potato & Tomatoes with Eggs
This recipe is from Ottolenghi’s “Plenty More” cookbook, ( a must have cookbook for vegetarian food in my view). I have been wanting to try it for a while and the acquisition of purple potatoes from the market provided the perfect excuse. I thought the combination of aubergine, potatoes and eggs in a faintly Middle-Eastern dressing would be interesting, and it was. Served with a fresh herby green salad, it’s a complete and delicious meal.
I normally follow Ottolenghi’s recipes precisely, but the prospect of frying aubergines in 2 cups of oil, was somewhat daunting for a weekend brunch. I used my little trick (that I learnt from an America Test Kitchen show) which involves salting and microwaving the aubergines. That partly cooks them and draws the water out, so when you fry them in oil the aubergines don’t act like a sponge. Of course, you can choose to follow Ottolenghi’s recipe exactly, but honestly, I don’t think deep-frying the aubergines for this dish would make much of a difference to the end result.
Although the sumac isn’t essential, it completes the Middle-Eastern feel. Omit if you don’t stock it.
Eggs – I have a small microwave egg poacher, which I find foolproof for poaching eggs. If poaching eggs is tricky, you can soft boil them or fry them instead. To soft boil eggs, see note below.
Potatoes: You will see from the photos that I used small purple potatoes that I found at the farmers market but any waxy, creamy variety or new potatoes would work.
Aubergine, Potato & Tomatoes with eggs
If you have eaten Shakshuka, which is an Israeli brunch dish made with meat & eggs, this is a fabulous vegetarian alternative. Although there’s a fair bit of preparation involved, this is a one-dish brunch or supper and all you needs is some green salad on the side.
Peel the tomatoes, (see note below for simple technique), Put the peeled, diced tomatoes in a colander for half an hour to drain. Transfer to a bowl and add the chopped onion, vinegar, parsley, Sriracha and a quarter- teaspoon of salt. Mix gently and set aside. This is the final topping.
Mix the aubergine with a teaspoon and a half of salt, place in a colander and set over a bowl for half an hour, to drain off any excess liquid. Transfer to a microwave-safe plate lined with a few sheets of kitchen paper and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Take out and pat dry.
Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to a boil, add the sliced potatoes and cook for 3 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water and set aside to dry.
Heat a frying pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and once hot, add the microwaved aubergine in batches and fry for 2-3 to four minutes, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and repeat with the rest of the aubergines. Wipe out the pan, and place back on heat.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and once hot add the potatoes and fry for 10 minutes seasoned with some salt and black pepper, until cooked through and golden brown; turn them over from time to time. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Put the tahini, 60ml of water, a tablespoon and a half of lemon juice, the garlic and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl, and whisk to a thick, pourable consistency.
To serve: Transfer the potatoes to a casserole or serving dish. Spoon half the tahini sauce over and spread the aubergine on top. Follow this with the remaining tahini, then the tomatoes. Poach the eggs just before you are ready to serve and lay them on top of the tomatoes, along with a drizzle of the remaining oil, a sprinkle each of sumac and coriander, and the last of the lemon juice.
To peel tomatoes: Cut a small cross on the base of each tomato. Place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. After 1 minute refresh with cold water. Use the "X" cut to peel off the skin easily.
To soft boil eggs: Place the eggs in a pan and cover with cold water. The water should come at least 2 cm above the eggs. Place pan on heat and bring to a boil. As soon as the water is boiling rapidly, turn off heat, cover, and set the timer for 4-5 minutes (depending on the size of the eggs, the shorter time for smaller eggs). When the timer goes off, drain off the water, and cover the eggs with cold water. Cool until you can handle the eggs, peel, halve carefully and use.