Pesto gratinated aubergine with caponata


First published in 2020
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Tomato sauce

Vegan pesto


Begin by making the tomato sauce for the caponata. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and a large pinch of salt. Cook until translucent (about 8 minutes)
  • 70ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • salt
Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes. Add the tin of tomatoes and leave to simmer for 25 minutes on a low heat or until the oil rises to the top
Meanwhile, make the pesto. Add all the ingredients apart from the breadcrumbs to a blender and blitz to a rough paste
  • 50g of basil, leaves picked
  • 15g of pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp of lemon juice, (fresh)
  • 1/4 tsp flaky sea salt
  • 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp of nutritional yeast, parmesan replacement if not nutritional yeast then a substitute vegan cheese would be fine
Slice the aubergines head to toe about 2cm thick. Take 6 of the largest sliced centre-cut pieces and set aside. Dice the remaining aubergine slices into 2cm cubes
To make the caponata, heat some of the olive oil and begin by frying off the reserved aubergine slices until golden on both sides. Remove from the heat and allow to cool on kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil
  • 70ml of extra virgin olive oil
Add a little more oil to the same pan and fry the diced aubergine until well caramelised. Remove and set aside to drain on kitchen paper. Work in batches to avoid overloading the pan
Once the aubergine cubes have all been browned off, add a little more oil to the same pan and sweat off the onion and celery with a pinch of salt. Cook until translucent, then add the garlic and chilli flakes and cook for a further 2 minutes
Add the red wine vinegar and leave to reduce by two-thirds. Add the aubergine back into the pan along with the tomato sauce, capers, olives, soaked raisins and sugar. Leave to simmer for 5-8 minutes, or until all warmed through
  • 75ml of red wine vinegar
  • 35g of capers
  • 75g of Kalamata olives
  • 2 tbsp of golden raisins, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes before being added
  • 25g of sugar
Remove from the heat and taste. Season with salt, lemon zest and juice then fold through the herbs and pine nuts (reserving some oregano leaves to garnish). It should have a sweet and sour flavour. If you have time, the caponata tastes even better when made up to 2 hours in advance to allow the favours to develop. It could also be made the day before and be served up at room temperature
Preheat an oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Weigh out the pesto and add an equal amount of Panko breadcrumbs (you may not need all 150g). Stir to combine, then spread this mixture over the top of each slice of aubergine. Place in the oven for around 8 minutes or until you have a nice golden crumb
  • 150g of Panko breadcrumbs
Serve up the slices with a generous helping of the caponata. Drizzle with a little extra oil and garnish the caponata with the reserved oregano leaves
First published in 2020
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