Baked and grilled aubergines

Slight bitterness and a squeaky texture.

Ingredients

2 aubergines

250g halloumi cheese

90g or so of sun-dried tomato pesto

4 tablespoons of olive oil

Method

Baking

Halve the aubergines and brush their cut faces with olive oil, letting it sink right in over the whole surface. Don’t be mean with the oil, because it is the olive oil that makes the aubergine go soft when it is baked.

(I know people say to salt aubergines first to get the bitter juice out but I never bother).

Put on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 180°.

You can either proceed straight to the grilling or let them cool and keep them in the fridge for a couple of days.

Grilling

Spread the pesto on the surface of each aubergine:

Slice the cheese reasonably thinly and lay it on top:

Grill for 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is as browned as you want. Halloumi doesn’t melt as such, it just goes floppy.

When I am starting from cold, I use the combination grill-and-microwave setting (preheating the grill beforehand): I have two settings, 300W and 450W, and I use the higher one. If you haven’t got this option then I’d suggest microwaving for two minutes at maximum.

Alternatives

I used to make this with tomato purée from a tube instead of the pesto, and with parmesan or grana padano instead of the halloumi. The flavours are purer then, and the sweetness of the topping contrasts well with the flavour of the aubergine. I always feel it’s a bit of an impertinence to grill parmesan, but grana padano works just as well. The more usually toastable cheeses such as cheddar or red leicester risk being too runny. But experiment with combinations and see what you think.

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