Baked Aubergines with Baby Vegetables - Serves 2
Aubergines are one of my favourite vegetables, and this is guaranteed to be a great dish.
1. Place the aubergine halves in a non-metallic dish and sprinkle the cut surfaces with the sugar and salt. Leave for 2–3 hours, loosely covered, in the fridge.
2. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/Fan 180ºC/Gas 6.
3. Remove the aubergine halves with a slotted spoon and reserve the juices. Heat an ovenproof frying pan until hot with 75ml of the oil. Fry the aubergine halves for 2–3 minutes on both sides until golden brown.
4. Add the garlic, lemon thyme and drizzle over the honey, shaking the pan from time to time to prevent sticking. Cook for a couple of minutes and then pour over the reserved aubergine juices and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan with 45ml of the oil and when hot, sauté the baby vegetables (with the exception of the tomatoes) until al dente – this should take 2–3 minutes. Season to taste and add 2 tablespoons water. Cover with a lid and cook for about 2 minutes or until all the water has evaporated. Add the tomatoes, together with the basil.
6. Next, process or juice the red peppers, and cook the pulp in a small pan until reduced by half. Add lemon juice and sugar to taste.This should yield 4–6 tablespoons pepper juice.
7. To assemble, top the aubergine halves with the baby vegetables. Spoon the tapenade evenly over and top with the slices of cheese. Drizzle over the pepper juice and the remaining oil, and return to the hot oven for a further 15–20 minutes.
8. Serve garnished with some more lemon thyme and with the juices from the pan drizzled over.