Finally the weather has taken a turn for the better here in Ireland and I think everyone is collectively taking a long inhale and breathing in some much needed Spring vibes. With the arrival of sunshine, my mind is already turning to Summer vegetables and aubergine is one of my all time favourite vegetables. Hopefully we'll start getting Irish aubergines next month, but what with today's sunshine I couldn't wait until then to share this recipe.
This oven roasted aubergine dish makes a perfect weekend lunch or dinner. There are a few different element to it so it's probably best to make it when you aren't pressed for time. Having said that, considering the dish is made entirely from scratch, it really doesn't take all that long. Enjoy x.
This recipe makes 6 if serving one aubergine half per serving or 3 if serving 2 aubergine halves per serving.
3 large aubergines, halved lengthways without removing the stalks
½ a large butternut squash
½ cup quinoa
75g feta cheese
For the herb pesto:
1 small bunch of coriander
1 small bunch of parsley
1/4 cup cashew nuts
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Juice of half a lemon
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
¼ cup pistachios
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
Preheat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add olive oil. Fry the aubergines, cut side down for eight minutes, then turn them over and fry them for a further 6 minutes. Once cooked, remove them from the pan and place them on kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil.
Preheat the oven to Gas 4 / 180C. Take half a butternut squash and peel it and remove any seeds. Chop into very small bite size pieces. Toss in a little olive oil and season with sea salt and black pepper and a pinch of chilli flakes. Place on a baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes or until tender.
Rinse the quinoa well in a fine sieve. Place in a medium size saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for approx. 15 minutes or until fluffy. Drain off any excess water.
To make the herb pesto, add all the ingredients to a food processor, save for the extra virgin olive oil and blitz until broken down. Slowly pour the extra virgin olive oil in until a pesto is formed.
Place the quinoa in a bowl with the cooked butternut squash and three tablespoons of the herb pesto and mix.
Preheat the oven to Gas 4 / 180C. Place the aubergine halves on a baking tray, flesh side up. Using a knife, slash the flesh of the aubergine without cutting all the way through to the skin. Press the aubergine flesh down with a fork to create a hollow. Spoon the quinoa, squash and pesto mixture into the hollow, dividing it equally between each of the aubergine halves. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and sprinkle crumbled feta cheese over each aubergine half.
Place the deshelled pistachios on a baking sheet and toast in a medium heated oven for eight minutes. Remove from the oven and roughly chop and set to one side.
To serve, top the aubergine halves with chopped pistachios and pomegranate and a drizzle of the left over pesto.