This aubergine salad is inspired by a Diana Henry recipe from her book, Simple.
Serve with a plate of mixed salamis and smoked hams.
You can make the dressing ahead of time, and you can make the salad a couple of hours ahead and keep warm, just adding a couple of touches of garnish at the last moment.
Recipe for warm aubergine and date salad
- 2 medium sized aubergines (approx. 250g/9 oz each)
- 2 medium sized onions
- 160ml/⅔ cup of olive oil – maybe a bit more
- 2 tbsps walnut oil (if you don’t have any, use more olive oil)
- 3 tsps cumin seeds
- 40g/⅓ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 tin (400g/14 oz) chickpeas
- 4 dates (ideally medjool)
- 60ml/¼ cup water
- 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika… or if you like your food a little hotter, Aleppo pepper or Byadgi chilli
- 1 small lemon, juice and zest, or a lime
- Fresh coriander leaves for garnishing
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses (or thick balsamic vinegar, or a little maple syrup)
- 8 tbsp runny (not thick Greek) yoghurt
- 60ml/¼ cup tahini
- 1 fat clove of garlic crushed with 1 tsp smoked salt
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
- Slice the aubergines horizontally across, about a cm/half an inch thick.
- Peel the onions into and cut into sixths
- Put a layer of aubergines and onions into a nice looking ovenproof dish (one you can serve from), drizzle over generously some olive oil, some salt and some paprika.
- Add a second layer and do the same.
- Put in the oven for a total of 45 minutes.
- In a small frying pan (not too small, it has to be able to take the tin of chickpeas) dry fry the cumin seeds – remove to a pestle and mortar and grind
- Dry fry the walnut pieces – again remove to a saucer.
- Pit and chop the dates.
- About twenty minutes after you first put them in, take the aubergines and onions out of the oven, drizzle over a bit more oil and stir around. Mix in the crushed cumin seeds.
- In the stick blender beaker, or in a smallish mixing bowl whizz the tahini, 60ml/¼ cup water, 60ml/¼ cup olive oil, the yoghurt, the crushed garlic, and the juice and zest of half a small lemon… or a lime.
- About ten minutes before you are due to take out the aubergines, pour a glug (a tbsp. or so) of olive oil into the frying pan, get it hot, drain the chickpeas and add them to the frying pan. Add the juice and zest of the other half of the lemon. Get the chickpeas good and warmed through.
- Take the aubergines out of the oven and mix in the chickpeas.
- Garnish with the chopped dates, the walnuts, a drizzle of walnut oil and the pomegranate molasses – at this stage you can cover for an hour or two and keep warm before serving.
- Just before serving garnish further with some torn coriander leaves, a few blobs of the sauce and a final flourish of the rust-red paprika.
- Serve with the rest of the sauce in a bowl for people to help themselves, and a selection, if you are not vegetarian, of charcuterie.