I have revelled in the sun today and in between having a hack at various bushes I sat in the garden and looked for inspiration for some snacks and nibbles to make and squirrel away for the coming week. I came across this recipe in a marvellous French cook book and gave it a go. The result – I have nibbled already – is stunning. Simplicity itself and it will keep in the jar in the fridge for at least a week – I doubt it will survive so long.
As for the photography – well, the sun was pouring in through the blinds and I am not sure if it has added or detracted from the aubergines – but hey, I felt like I was in Le Midi so it is as it is!
You will need –
3 aubergines – halved lengthways
90 ml olive oil plus a splash or two extra
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled but bashed sightly to release the aroma
6 thyme sprigs – you could equally use rosemary
Sea salt and black pepper
Get your oven to 180c. Score the flesh of the aubergine halves with a sharp knife in a criss-cross pattern. Place then on a baking tray flesh side up. Drizzle with the olive oil and season each one. Pop a clove of garlic and a sprig of thyme on each half. Cover with a sheet of foil.
Bake in the oven on the middle shelf for an hour or so until the flesh is really soft. Remove from the oven. Throw the thyme sprigs away. Take the garlic cloves, peel them and place on a chopping board. Next, scoop the flesh from each half onto the chopping board with the garlic. Get rid of the skins. Chop the flesh and garlic finely and mix together. Spoon it into a jar, add a splash of oil and seasoning. Stir well. Press it down and cover the surface with a little more olive oil. Close the lid!
Once it has cooled place in your fridge or larder. You can enjoy it as an aperitif with crusty bread or crackers.
Butternut Squash and Ricotta Crostini
An easy and remarkably satisfying snack for when you have friends round and want to serve something that goes well with that first glass or two of champagne!
Quarter and peel a butternut squash, cut into slices and smear with olive oil and cumin seeds and a little rock salt. Roast in a hot oven for around an hour until you can pop a knife easily into the flesh. Let it cool – then spread onto warm slices of ciabatta or good farmhouse bread – top with a spoonful of ricotta, a little black pepper and a leaf or two of fresh mint – you could also use basil leaves if you fancy…but mint is marvellous.