It was midweek and a glorious sunny day in Edinburgh. A day that makes me realize why I have chosen this city as my home-away-from-home for so many years. But at the same time, it makes me crave the food that I grew up on; fruit and vegetables that can only flourish under a warm scorching sun. It makes me want to be seasonal and simple. That, and also spend too much time outside, so when I get home I have little energy to come up with something elaborate to eat…
So the choice ingredient was μελιτζάνες, aka aubergines/eggplants. And what I made was not based on a recipe or a paper cutting, just sheer laziness. I know. Shame. On. Me. But since I made it the first time this summer, it has been a staple make-me-when-the-sun-comes-out dish. So, my recipe is likely to be flawed, so use it as a guide and don’t tell me off for pointing you in the wrong direction. You were warned.
Roast aubergines, pearl barley and warm asparagus
2 medium aubergines, cut into thin rounds
200gr pearl barley
3 spring onions, sliced thinly
handful of parsley, chopped
1 red chili, sliced any way you like it, seeds in or out
half a lemon, juice
bunch of asparagus spears, cut on the diagonal into 1cm pieces
garlic oil – or 1 clove of garlic, crushed, if you are being virtuous
salt and pepper
Heat your oven to 220°C (200°C fan). Brush both sides of the aubergine rounds with olive oil, season and place them in one layer on a baking tray. Roast for around 15-20 minutes until they are brown and golden. This time will depend on how thin/thick you have cut your aubergines. I cut them thin so they turn crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside. In the meantime, boil the pearl barley according to packet instructions. Slice up the spring onions, parsley and chili. Turn the aubergines over, brush and season with a tiny smidgen of salt again and put back for another 10-15 minutes to colour the other side. Heat up some garlic oil in a pan that has a lid over a high heat (if using the fresh garlic, just heat normal olive oil and fry the garlic for a minute or two), and stir fry the asparagus for a couple of minutes. Add a splash of water, cover and turn down the heat for another minute or two. Mix the barley with some olive oil, the lemon juice, salt and pepper along with the chili and most of the parsley and spring onions, keep some aside for the garnish. Add the asparagus to the barley and start plating. Pearl barley and asparagus first, aubergines on top, garnish with spring onions and parsley. Enjoy.
You have to taste this for yourselves for me to convey how delicious I think this is. It is creamy because of the aubergines and crunchy from the asparagus, with some pearl barley to make everything better. But think warm summers evening, when all you want it something to accompany your crisp white wine and the sunset.
And just as a last note… Good luck London in your venture to bring the Olympics to life… I am still proud to be Greek…