Roasted Aubergine Salad with Saffron Yogurt, Pine Nuts and Pomegranate

by Meeta Wolff

This chapter is a free excerpt from What's For Lunch, Honey?.



Recipe Adapted From Yotam Ottolenghi, The Cookbook 

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Recipe Adapted From Yotam Ottolenghi, The Cookbook 

After a trip to Dubai, returning to Germany is not only bittersweet, but a complete atmospheric opposite: I’ve gone from bright sunshine to cloudy grey, from pure relaxation to a whirlwind of chores and routines, from indulging in exquisite dishes from every part of the world to simple and comforting home-cooked meals. While part of me was happy to be back home, another part yearned to be enjoying the carefree days in Dubai. Winter in Weimar felt longer than usual. Beautiful, for sure, but it could stop snowing already!

For me, January and February are generally boring months. Time seems to be at a standstill as I, with anticipation, await for the first signs of spring. I usually taunt it to come earlier with colorful tulips and hyacinths, leaving an alluring scent all over the house. It does not always work, and as I put on my gloves and snuggle deeper into my woolen scarf I look at the piles of snow outside with disdain. To make matters worse, by February the supermarket shelves are already being stocked with strawberries and rhubarb. It’s hard, but I keep my fingers away. It’s wasn’t the time, I knew, but they teased me with all their promises of juicy spring excitement.

While I wait for spring, I am jonesing for vibrant flavored food. Satisfaction came in the form of one recipe: the first I saw when I flipped open the crisp pages of my new Ottolenghi Cookbook. Deliciously roasted aubergines, smothered in thick yogurt spiced with vibrant saffron...regular readers will know the love affair I have with this spice, so this was a recipe that called my name.

This is a glorious dish with robust contrasting flavors and vivid, exuberant colors. I truly love the fact that jewels of pomegranate added a slight tangy flavoring and roasted pine nuts gave it a nutty crunch. Greek yogurt gave a wonderful creamy texture to the dressing—so good I was spooning it on its own. Each ingredient complements the other playing off the aromas perfectly.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium aubergines, cut into wedges
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • Olive oil
  • A good handful of pomegranate seeds, approximately ½ pomegranate
  • A handful of basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Coarse sea salt and crushed black pepper
For the Saffron Yogurt
  • Pinch of saffron strands, infused in approximately 3 tablespoons hot water for 5 minutes
  • 180g thick Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Method:

  1. Make the sauce first by gently beating the yogurt in a small bowl until it is smooth. Pour in the saffron infused water and stir to incorporate.
  1. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk well.
  1. Adjust seasoning to taste. Refrigerate until required.
  1. Preheat oven to 220ºC (425ºF). Toss the aubergine wedges with salt, pepper and plenty of olive oil in a large bowl until the aubergine is nicely coated. Transfer the vegetables to a roasting tray or an ovenproof dish. Roast for 20-35 minutes, depending on how your oven works. Once the aubergine wedges have taken on a deep golden color, take them out of the oven and allow to cool.
  1. Arrange the aubergine wedges on a large serving plate, then drizzle generously with the saffron yogurt. Sprinkle with pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, and basil leaves.

Helpful Notes:

  • The saffron sauce can be made up to three days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
  • Once the aubergines are roasted, they can also be stored for 3 days. Allow them to come to room temperature before serving.
  • This is a great starter with some pita bread. We however, enjoyed it as a side to a lovely Middle Eastern style chicken.
  • Leftovers? Use this to stuff pita bread for delicious vegetarian sandwiches.
Soma
This has to be the best salad I have seen around for a while. Love everything about it and it is extremely my kind. makes me want to get up and make some for myself right now. Most exotic flavors brought together here.
FEBRUARY 17, 2010 4:08:00 AM GMT+01:00
Katie @ Cozydelicious
The dressing looks wonderful! I bet it would be great on almost anything - pita wraps, frittatas etc. I'm often a little bit afraid of saffron... something about the expense, and worries of wasting it if whatever I'm making is just not quite worth it. But this looks SO good I think I have to give it a try.
FEBRUARY 18, 2010 3:18:00 AM GMT+01:00
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