New name, good old taste from eggplants
It’s a bit of a stretch to call white markings ‘‘graffiti’’ but possibly the marketing men and mesdames at vegetable headquarters thought it a sexier description than ‘‘stripy eggplant’’.
The differences between everyday purple eggplants and this variety are faint but nevertheless discernible. Its flavour is milder, the cooked flesh has a silken almost velvety texture and there is no bitterness in even a half-cooked slice.
Back in the day, when any new food came along there was a tendency to give the resultant dish an aristocratic title – as in a la king, or queen, or worse, comparing it to another rarely encountered food.
Aubergine caviar, for instance, is a hummus-type spread and is as far from caviar as can be imagined – not fishy, not rare, and definitely not expensive. I’m sure the first dinner party hostess to pass this ‘‘caviar’’ around was the classic 1960s doll, all kitten heels, full skirts and beehive hair. Well, if the ‘‘look’’ can come back, so can the dish du jour.
Oregano is a good herb match with eggplants, but in this dish, dried, powdered or freeze-dried oregano is better than adding chopped fresh leaves. Serve with sandwich sliced white bread cut into triangles (melba toasts) and oven-baked or toasted pita breads. 2–3 graffiti eggplants (about 750g) 1 tablespoon lemon juice 80ml fruity olive oil 11⁄ teaspoons sherry vinegar (can substitute red wine vinegar) Generous pinch of dried oregano (I use freeze dried Fresh As) 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped Garnish:
teaspoon pepper oil or chilli oil – or a dash of Tabasco A generous handful of coriander leaves and roots, finely chopped
Heat oven to 190C. Put the untrimmed eggplants on baking tray and cook for an hour – or until the skins are shrivelled. Put in a plastic bag until cool – the skin will peel off easily. Place the fleshy sausages onto a clean Chux cloth, roll up and squeeze out any liquid. Put the flesh in a food processor along with the lemon juice
and, with the machine running, pour the olive oil down the food chute. Stop. Add the vinegar, dried herb, and garlic. Whiz again until you have a thick puree. Taste and add salt to preference. Tip into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours – eight at least. Serve in a shallow bowl – slish-slosh the flavoured oil over, then sprinkle with the coriander. Serve with baked bread around the bowl.