Chilli and rosemary aubergine parcels with smoky mash
Aubergines are incredibly versatile. They lend themselves to so many diverse flavours and cooking styles whether they are fried, smoked, steamed, roasted, grilled, mashed or pickled.
For the aubergine and mozzarella parcels:
2 large aubergines
6 tbsps of olive oil
Sea salt and pepper 2 garlic cloves, crushed with 1 tsp of sea salt 3 sprigs of rosemary 2 tsps of fennel seeds, lightly toasted
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
500g of buffalo mozzarella For the Smoky aubergine mash:
2 medium aubergines
900g of potatoes (such as desirée or maris piper)
100g of butter, diced 100ml of hot double cream or milk
Sea salt and black pepper
20 caper berries (optional)
1 To make the parcels, slice the aubergine lengthways into ½–1cm slices (you need 8 slices in all), lightly brush both sides with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a griddle pan (or barbecue, weather permitting) over a medium heat and cook the aubergine in batches until golden and tender (about 2 minutes each side). Transfer to shallow dish. 2 Strip the leaves from the rosemary and finely chop, then add to the crushed garlic in a mortar and pestle, along with the fennel seeds and chillies and crush. Add the remaining olive oil and mix well. Pour the marinade over the aubergines and mix through. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge.
3 Remove the aubergines from the marinade and lay them flat on a work surface. (Reserve the marinade for serving.) Tear the mozzarella into 8 pieces and place one on the end of each aubergine. Roll up to enclose – and if you have some rosemary left, secure the parcels with a sprig, for a professional touch! Place on a baking tray and warm under a hot grill or oven until the cheese begins to melt.
4 To make the mash, prick the aubergines all over with a fork and char over a gas flame, griddle or barbecue, turning frequently, until blackened. If you have an electric cooker, roast the aubergine in a hot oven, although you won’t achieve the same smoky flavour. Place the aubergines in a colander and leave to cool. Cut in half lengthways and, using a spoon, scoop out and finely chop the flesh and place in a colander to drain away any bitter juices.
5 If you have a steamer, peel the potatoes and cut into 4cm pieces. Steam until cooked, for about 30 minutes. Shake any excess water from the potatoes and place in a pan or flat-bottomed bowl. (If you don’t own a steamer, place the potatoes in a large pan, cover with water, add a pinch of salt, bring to the boil and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain well and return the potatoes to the pan, place over a low heat and leave for a minute or so to remove any excess water. Turn off the heat.)
6 Add the butter and, using a potato masher, mash until lump-free. Pour in the hot cream or milk and beat with a wooden spoon until soft and fluffy. Stir through the aubergine pulp, season with sea salt and pepper and serve the aubergine parcels on top, together with some rocket leaves, drizzled with the reserved marinade. Caper berries are lovely with this dish too (as shown). ➤