If there is one unifying vegetable of the countries bordering the Mediterranean it is surely the bulging purple-skinned aubergine. It is an amazingly accommodating creature, happily fried, baked, stuffed or pureed. In a tiny restaurant in the Var I discovered this aubergine purée flavoured with mint – a herb which is not widely used in French cooking but is, of course, characteristic of the cuisines further east in the Mediterranean.
Halve the aubergine lengthways and place cut side down on a lightly oiled oven dish. Place under a hot grill and cook until the skin has blackened and blistered and the inside is soft.
Remove from the grill and cover the dish with an upturned bowl. Leave until the aubergine is cool enough to handle. Then scrape the flesh of the vegetable into the bowl of a blender or a processor. Mix in the oil, lemon juice and salt with sufficient chopped mint to flavour it lightly.
Spoon the purée into a dish and chill until ready to serve. Serves 3–4. This purée goes well with thinly sliced saucisson sec, especially the jesu of the Langedoc and the rosette of the Ardèche.
© 1987 Geraldene Holt. All rights reserved.