Being part Portuguese, although I sadly never learned to speak the language, I have this innate love for Mediterranean food. Fresh veg roasted in olive oil would be my final meal if I was ever made to choose, maybe throw in some roast pork or even a good chunk of cheese and I would go off a happy person. To me it is all in the olive oil. A good olive oil can literally make or break your dish, and I can’t stress the importance of buying good quality 100% pure olive oil to pour over your food. After all, you would not put stolen black market petrol in your posh car, so why should your body be any different?!
Sourcing the perfect olive oil is the hardest part and my best advice is to search for a deli in your area that sells local pressed olive oil, this you way you can question them around their suppliers and possibly even get to taste it before purchasing.
A few years back I was invited to an olive oil tasting, now being a wine girl I would have jumped at the invite had it been wine but was more cautious of an oil tasting. I went more out of intrigue than anything else, and I have say it was absolutely enlightening. Firstly, those tiny tasting glasses can be slippery little buggers if any oil is sloshed over the edge, but that aside, the difference in taste between the selection of oils was really astounding. Once faced with a line up of different oils, one can immediately taste the distinct difference in flavours. They can range from spicy to fruity just like wines, and a seasoned oil taster will even be able to tell you which country or region the olives were grown just from tasting.
What better way to show of your newly purchased olive oil than drizzled over this dish. Aubergine roasted with Harissa spice then topped with a refreshing salsa of diced tomato, freshly foraged wild garlic (you could also use basil) and tiny slivers of kumquat to add a delicious citrus flavour. You could not get more Mediterranean than that!
- 2 large aubergines - sliced length ways in half
- 1 tsp of butter or coconut oil
- sprinkle of salt
- sprinkle of Harissa spice - or any other spice blend available
- FOR THE SALSA
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes - chopped
- 4-5 leaves of wild garlic OR a handful of fresh basil
- 3 kumquats - sliced in half then into thin slivers
- pinch of salt
- 1 Tbsp good quality olive oil
- 1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Preheat the oven to 250ºC
- Prepare a baking tray and place the aubergines face up.
- Score, then add a smear of butter and spread it over like a slice a toast.
- Sprinkle salt and Harissa spice.
- Turn the oven down to 220ºC and roast for about 20min (they should be soft and squishy when ready).
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
- Mix the salsa ingredients together and leave to rest allowing the flavours to mingle until just before serving, then top the aubergines.
- Drizzle with extra olive oil and serve as a main or side dish.