The first time I ever ate an aubergine was in London in 1976. Those were the days when most folk didn't even know what it was or how it should be cooked. I didn't buy it or cook it myself - I was presented with it as a starter in a Greek restaurant and I loved it. All these years later I am now growing them for the first time. During summer we had to water them constantly and we still lost loads to the ferocity of the sun turning them bad before they had even ripened. But now in Autumn the crop is really coming on and we are harvesting them every day... but what to do with them?
My favourite dish - and one that I first found in a vegetarian cookbook back in the 1970's when I couldn't even find an aubergine in the shops.
Aubergine with Tomato and Cinnamon
Ingerdients: One large or two small aubergines. One onion finely chopped, a jar or packet of tomato passata, half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, a handful of sultanas or raisins and a few toasted almond slithers. A sprinkling of grated cheese and possibly fresh breadcrumbs to garnish.
Method: Make a tomato sauce by frying the onion in a little veggie oil until it is soft but not brown. Add the tomato passata and a teaspoon of sugar and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, if it seems very thick you can add a little water. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
Meanwhile.... cut the aubergine into slices but leaving them still attached at the stalk end. Place in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle a little salt over the top. Sprinkle them with the cinnamon and throw over the sultanas and almonds.
Add the tomato sauce and pop the dish into the oven uncovered and cook at around 190C for approximately 30 to 45 minutes (my oven is not a good indication of timings since it doesn't hold the temperature well) or until the aubergines are starting to collapse.
When cooked they should be soft and slightly mushy... the skins will be a little firmer and will hold them together. At this point sprinkle over some grated cheese (any kind at all) the breadcrumbs if using and replace in the oven or under a grill. The dish is ready when the cheese has melted.
Eat with crusty bread and a salad for a lunch or as an accompaniment to sausages for a main meal.