I’d clearly gone on enough about the column Yotam Ottolenghi writes in the Guardian Saturday magazine to provoke a gift of Ottolenghi: The Cookbook from my long-suffering boyfriend when I finally moved to London last year.
Since receiving said cooking bible I have waxed lyrical about it to, well, anyone who would listen really. The combinations of flavours are gutsy and imaginative, the colours bright. Ottolenghi really does, without wanting to sound terribly wanky, encourage a new thinking and approach to the simplest foods. Take steamed green beans and mangetout. They’ll do like that, for sure, but how about making a meal out of just them by adding orange zest and hazelnuts? Now we’re talking.
It is this kind of approach that makes me almost revel in my low calorie requirements. The book is crammed full of wonderful recipes that are full of veg, light on fat. Smug food. This roasted aubergine salad is just that. I think it’s rather exciting too, all the loud flavours and contrasting textures held together by the fragrant yoghurt. Of course, be minimal with the olive oil to keep it as light as poss.
Roasted aubergine with basil, pine nuts and pomegranate with saffron yoghurt by the utterly awesome Ottolenghi. Serves two dieting ladies, pretty well. I’ve adjusted the recipe here and there.
One large aubergine cut into wedges (leaving each piece with some skin)
Olive oil for brushing
A tablespoon of pine nuts
A mini handful of pomegranate seeds
A bunch of basil, leaves picked
Salt and pepper
A pinch of saffron
A few tablespoons of low fat natural yoghurt (I’ve replaced their greek yog here to keep the fat down)
1 clove of garlic
A squeeze of lemon juice
A tablespoon of good quality olive oil
Arrange the aubergine wedges on a baking tray and brush with a little olive oil. Place the aubergine into a preheated oven at about 190 degrees – they’ll take about 20 minutes to bake – they will shrivel slightly and take on a lovely golden brown colour.
Meanwhile make the saffron yoghurt. Infuse the strands in a small amount of warm water (about three tablespoons) for about five minutes, until the water has turned a deep yellow. Pour this mixture into another bowl containing the garlic and a touch of salt. Add all the yoghurt and whisk together. Now add lemon juice and olive oil a little at a time and continue to whisk together until you reach the consistency and flavour you like (this part is a little different to the original recipe – using low fat yoghurt means the dressing will be thinner than using greek yoghurt. If you’d like to use greek, you can add more oil and lemon).
Once the aubergine is baked and smelling delicious (after about 20 minutes), take it out and arrange the slices on two plates. Quickly sprinkle the pine nuts over the baking tray the aubergines have just vacated and whack back in the oven. Arrange the basil across the aubergine and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Take the just-toasted pine nuts back out and sprinkle over too. Now drizzle with the saffron yoghurt and eat as quickly as possible.
Picture by my lovely co-dieter.