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AUTUMN LEAVES & AUBERGINES

A Saturday visit to Primrose Hill Farmers Market should rock any leafy green lover’s boat.


The vegetable stall (first on the left as you enter the school gates) offers an abundance of seasonal root veggies and an extensive array of exotic leaves you just don’t encounter in your local Tesco.


I was very kindly given samples from the selection of 'Autumnal' leaves (10 o’clock salad snack attack!), and ‘Edible Chrysanthemum’ came out tops. Apparently, they’re readily available throughout Asian markets (China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia), they belong to the Daisy family, and they’re also called ‘Chopsuey greens’. Munching away and listening to these facts, all I knew was that the Chrysanthemum leaves were deliciously flora, sweet, tangy and parsley-like - A yummy new find!


Mr Google also informed me that Chrysanthemum greens provide 30% more potassium than bananas, and their chlorogenic acid content is purported to reduce cellulite and enhance weight loss (which lettuce leaves don’t?!). They’re also hailed for their ability to reduce the risk of lung cancer (due to their high flavonoid & carotenoid antioxidants and vitamin A content) & prevent bone loss (by providing high levels of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus to enhance bone-building).


With family popping over for an afternoon stroll, and my son and nephew wanting to use our Tefal Raclette Grill to griddle strips of steak at the dinner table (to create their favourite fajitas),

I was inspired to use my greens to whip up (a vegan version of) this VERY garlicky Ottolenghi dish to accompany the steak & guacamole. For people like me, who don’t eat red meat, aubergine makes a wonderful ‘meaty’ alternative


Just be ready with the parsley or mint chewing gum if you’re thinking about going out socialising after eating this dish!


AUBERGINE WITH BLACK GARLIC

(SERVES 4)


Ingredients:

3 medium aubergines or 2 large aubergines (approx. 900g), sliced widthways into 1.5cm rounds

200ml olive oil

8 large or 12 small black garlic cloves (I couldn’t get hold of black garlic so used 4 large cloves of smoked garlic and 4 large cloves of fresh garlic)

200g plain coconut yoghurt (you may want to play around with the quantity to vary the thickness of the sauce and coconut intensity)

1.5 tsp lemon juice

7 garlic cloves (approx. 30g), thinly sliced (optional)

3 fresh red chillis, sliced on the diagonal into 3mm rounds

5g dill leaves

5g basil leaves

5g tarragon leaves

80g edible chrysanthemums, wild rocket or any desired green salad leaves


Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C Fan / gas mark 6.

2. Place the aubergine rounds in a large bowl with 60ml of olive oil, ½ tsp sea salt and ground black pepper. Toss to coat and spread out on 2 large baking sheets lined with parchment paper or two large Pyrex glass roasting dishes.

3. Roast in the oven until golden-brown and soft – approx. 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

4. Whilst the aubergine is roasting, place 8 large or 12 small garlic cloves in a food processor with ½ tsp sea salt, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tbsp coconut yoghurt and the lemon juice. Blitz to form a rough paste, and then add the rest of the yoghurt and blitz again until thoroughly blended & smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and place in the fridge (if using later in the day).

5. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and add the garlic and red chilli slices. Fry on high heat for approx. 5 minutes until the garlic is golden-brown and the chilli is crispy.

6. Arrange the leafy greens on a platter, then layer the aubergine on top of the greens, spoon over a drizzle of garlic yoghurt dressing, and dress with the herbs, fried garlic and red chilli.




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