Here’s something to make if you have some time to kill and want to impress your guests – or just want to treat yourself or someone you love. You’ll need at least one hour to prepare this, but this lukewarm vegetarian aubergine tarte is oh-so-lovely. Many thanks to Linda, who introduced this to me and gave me the recipe.
The following works for my 200x200x50mm square Pyrex dish, and makes a meal for three people, lunch for four, or starters for eight. Adjust amounts according to your dish size:
Cut 3 pretty large aubergines into 4..5mm thin slices. Spread out on some greaseproof paper, salt generously. Let rest for 20 minutes, then brush with olive oil, turn over, and repeat the process on the other side.
Meanwhile, oil a fireproof dish, cut 3 or 4 tomatoes into pieces, salt slightly, and put in the oven for roasting (about 30 minutes at 180C).
Cut a small onion and a little garlic into fine dice, and melt in some hot butter. Wash and clean 500g swiss chard (use fresh Spinach as an alternative), and briefly steam with the garlic and onions. Don’t add liquid other than the droplets that come from washing the greens, and do not add salt. You don’t want this to turn soggy.
Grind some fresh Parmesan and Gruyere cheese. Prepare some goat cheese (crumple); blue cheese could also be nice but might be too overwhelming. Dry-fry some mushrooms (optional).
Put the aubergines under the grill until the look great (a few minutes, but you may need to do this in two or three batches).
Finally, find that 200x200x50mm square Pyres dish I told you about. Line with baking paper, then line with one layer of aubergine slices, covering the sides and the bottom. Make it look nice; this is what people will look at when done.
Then, layer greens, cheeses, mushrooms and aubergines into the dish. The original recipe suggests adding Basil or Marjoram, but I don’t like the idea of Marjoram in this dish, and don’t think Basil is necessary either. A small amount of pepper within the layers will suffice, but be careful not to add salt (or only very tiny amounts) – you’ve salted the aubergines already. A pinch of nutmeg with each layer of greens is optional but nice.
Before you put the last layer of aubergine slices on top, mix two free range eggs with one or two tablespoons of cold water, and pour over the dish. Shake and move the dish to allow the liquid eggs to fill the gaps – this is the glue that holds it all together.
Finally, make a nice lid with another layer of aubergine slices, and put in the oven at 190C for 20 minutes, adding the grill in the last 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, run the roasted tomatoes through a blender. Don’t add anything, just make sure you have a medium-thick nice and flavorsome roasted tomato sauce. It couldn’t be simpler, but you will need fairly good tomatoes for this to work the miracle all by itself.
Take the tarte from the oven when done. Give it 10 minutes to cool down a little, then turn over, remove the baking paper, and let cool down further.
This can be eaten hot, but I find it is best served lukewarm, with the slightly colder roasted tomato sauce on the side.