Pur­ple reign

Beat the win­ter blues with an aubergine feast

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page -

For a few years now, my wife Jemima and I have tried to eat more eth­i­cally: eat­ing very lit­tle meat, and mostly sea­sonal veg­eta­bles. On the whole, this has been a lib­er­at­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Rather than lim­it­ing my cook­ing, the re­stric­tion on in­gre­di­ents has forced me to be more cre­ative.

But there are times when I gaze into the veg box at this time of year and sigh for sum­mer.

Ev­ery­thing is beau­ti­ful – don’t get me wrong. The beets are tight and hard, their stalks red and glossy like painted nails. The greens are ro­bust and the wa­ter forms pert bub­bles on their waxy sur­face when I wash them. And I love the way the peeler draws neat or­ange lines in the muddy brown skin of the car­rots.

Gen­er­ally the long­ing for some­thing soft and sun-kissed passes, but when it doesn’t, I sneak down to the Turk­ish corner­shop at the end of our road to buy some evil, air-freighted toma­toes or an aubergine and treat us to a rare fix of un­sea­sonal sum­mer.

If you suf­fer from sim­i­lar crav­ings, to­day’s trio of aubergine dishes should sort you out. They are all based on recipes Jane has brought back from an­nual sum­mers in Puglia. She ate the salad and the “cakes” in one of the jum­ble of houses perched on a cliff edge in the crazily pic­turesque Polig­nano a Mare last year. The polpette are a spe­cial­ity of the area. To­gether, they’ll de­liver a lit­tle hit of sun­shine to help you through this bit­ter Fe­bru­ary.

In­ci­den­tally, if you want to taste th­ese dishes in situ, Es­pressino Travel, who of­ten help with this col­umn, run won­der­ful culi­nary tours of Puglia.

Henry Dim­bleby and Jane Bax­ter

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