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Aubergine antipasto with pine nuts and herbs

Aubergine antipasto with pine nuts and herbs

This is a superb but simple recipe I cut out of a magazine years ago.  No idea who wrote it.   I made a large plate of it recently for a family birthday and we grazed on it for the rest of the weekend.   The aubergines cook quite quickly, especially with sliced and grilled or fried.  Cook right through: aubergines don’t taste good if undercooked so make sure they are translucent, with no trace of white.  If you can’t get pine nuts, you could use flaked almonds instead.

For 4-6 people as a starter, or grazing platter
2-3 medium, aubergines, about 700g
2 tbs sea salt (flakes or finely ground, it doesn’t matter)
About 125ml extra virgin olive oil
50g pine nuts
Small bunch fresh mint, half chopped, half in sprigs
Small bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, half chopped, half in sprigs
Few drops balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Cut the aubergines lengthways into 1cm slices.  Score both sides of each with a fork.  Sprinkle with salt.  Drain on a rack for 10-20 minutes, then pat dry with kitchen paper.  The salting of the aubergine draws out the bitter juices and makes the end product much sweeter.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a ridged stove-top grill pan until very hot.  Wipe with olive oil, using a wad of crumpled kitchen paper or heatproof brush.   Paint each slice with oil.  Arrange on hot pan, pressing down firmly.  cook for 3-5 minutes on each side until grill-marked, tender and aromatic.
  3. Heat a separate frying pan, add pine nuts and toast gently until golden. Set aside.
  4. Scatter cooked aubergine with chopped mint, parsley, black pepper and balsamic vinegar.  Loop slices on serving plates, add pine nuts and sprigs of mint and parsley and serve.

    Why this is good for you:
    Raw herbs like parsley and mint are a powerhouse of antioxidant, anti-ageing nutrients that help soothe your digestive system.  Mint is anti-spasmodic and so can reduce wind.  Parsley is rich in iron and is great for your kidneys too.  Aubergines are rich in fibre, which is good news for the beneficial bacteria in your gut – they use the indigestible fibre in your food to make healing substances to repair and maintain the health of your small and large intestine.  People who eat more vegetables have a lower incidence of ALL digestive disorders, including gallstones, colitis and gastritis.  Like most vegetables, aubergines are also high in potassium which helps your body respond well to your natural thyroid hormone.  This results in more energy, thicker hair and better bowel regularity.