Stuffed aubergine en papillote is the perfect thing for vegetarians at a meaty barbecue. Rather than having to hover nearby the barbecue to ensure that your halloumi and zucchini aren’t chucked on the hot plate next to the sausages, here your dinner is sealed in a delightful little parcel, which can happily co-exist on a barbie with any meaty mates.
Stuffed summer vegetables immediately makes me think of marrow: over-inflated and forgotten-about zucchini that have grown into gigantic logs. I have a horror of stuffed marrows, which are so often watery and bland and the only redeeming feature is the stuffing. Eat the stuffing and chuck the marrow into the compost is my advice.
The vital difference between these stuffed aubergine and stuffed marrow is the container is equally as delicious as the filling. I’ve tinkered with Lois’ original recipe here. She stuffed hers with rice, with a footnote saying that the half of the rice could be substituted for chickpeas. I did half and half (but next time would just use entirely chickpeas) and added in loads more mint, sumac and chilli flakes. When I discussed this recipe with Lois she said that if sumac had been available when the recipe was published, it was something she would have definitely added herself.
Stuffed aubergine en papillote with cucumber & yoghurt sauce (Good Food, p.10)
3 medium-sized aubergine
1 onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sumac
1/2 teaspoon allspice
3 cups cooked chickpeas
3 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons golden sultanas, soaked in boiling water for couple of minutes and drained
bunch of fresh mint, chopped
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Leaving the stems on, cut each aubergine in half length-wise. Brush the cut-side with oil and sprinkle with a little salt and put cut-side down into a large frying pan for which you have a lid. Cook for a couple of minutes until starting to brown, then place the lid on top. You may need to do this in one of two batches if your pan isn’t large enough.
Cook until the eggplant is soft enough to scoop out; you can test it as it cooks by inserting a skewer. Once cool enough to handle, carefully scoop out the inside of the aubergine, leaving enough of the flesh intact so that the eggplant can act as a sturdy-ish container for the filling. Roughly chop the scooped-out eggplant and set aside.
Sauté the onion in a splash of oil until it is soft. Add the spices and chickpeas and continue cooking over a low heat for 4-5 minutes. Add the chopped tomato, soaked sultanas, chopped eggplant, mint, and season well with salt & pepper. Stir well and cook for a couple more minutes.
Place each aubergine half on a square of aluminium foil large enough to wrap it in a secure package. Divide the filling between the six aubergine halves and fold the packages. When ready to heat and serve, place the packages on the outer edges of the barbecue for 15 minutes (these packages can also be baked in a 180°C oven). Serve the eggplant with dollops of cucumber and yoghurt sauce on top.
Cucumber & yoghurt sauce
half of a telegraph cucumber
thick Greek style yoghurt (I used The Collective unsweetened culinary yoghurt)
handful of fresh mint, chopped
sea salt & pepper
Chop the cucumber in half lengthwise, then into thirds lengthwise, and then slice across the width to get small cubes. Mix with the yoghurt, chopped mint and season with salt and pepper.