I don’t know about where you guys are staying, but right here where I am it’s roasting hot. Roasting hot means barbecue time!
Barbecues are pretty awesome, unless you’re vegetarian, then they’re pretty lame. Your choice of food is generally limited to sausages with the texture and flavour of a yoga mat with garden herbs, some exploded cherry tomatoes, some rubbery mushrooms on a skewer, a couscous salad that someone brought along (“Yeah, it’s vegetarian, there’s only some slices of chorizo in it, you can fish those out right?”), and bread with garlic sauce to fill you up. I gave vegetarianism a shot for 2 years when I was younger, and at the time I unfortunately never got anything better than these depressing wares.
Time has passed, I have gotten more creative, and I feel infinitely inferior to my vegetarian friends for having given in to the meaty temptation of the abattoir’s delicious produce (albeit the outdoor-reared, proper-fed variety), so I try to come up with vegetarian food as much as possible. For yesterday’s barbecue, although there were no vegetarians present, I made some really nice aubergine parcels. Although I doubt this would be enough to keep a vegetarian going all barbecue long, it’s a good start to a wider variety of non-meat on the barbie.
For about 20 parcels you will need:
- 3 aubergines, preferably the long, thin ones
- 3 or 4 tomatoes, enough to get the same number of slices as your aubergines
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- a handful of fresh basil
- enough olive oil
- a whole bunch of salt
- some freshly ground pepper
You will also need some wee skewers (toothpicks, really).
Cut the green bits off the aubergines, the slice them into thin slices, lengthways, making the slices as thin as you can whilst not making them so thin they’ll break easily (I think 3-5 mm works best). Generously sprinkle both sides with salt, then stick them in a colander for at least half an hour. Stick the skewers in a bowl of water and soak them so they don’t burn on the barbecue later. Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes, and chop the basil and the garlic.
When your aubergine slices have leaked out all of their bitter juice, dry them with a clean tea towel, cover one side in olive oil (you can do this using a wee silicon brush, or if you don’t have one, using your fingers or filling a plate with some oil and simply dipping one side of the slice in the oil). Then put a slice of tomato on the end of each one, top with some of the basil and the garlic, then roll it up so you get a wee flat parcel. Secure with a skewer and put on a big plate or dish. To finish, sprinkle the whole bunch with some more olive oil and a lot of pepper. Grill them on the barbecue on both sides for a few minutes, until the aubergine is nice and soft and has a good colour.