Rich Aubergine with Tomato and Basil

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This savoury treat combines two of my favourite vegetables, aubergines and tomatoes. The smaller, long, thin Chinese aubergines are preferable to the thicker European variety because of their slightly sweeter and milder taste. However, you may use the European type. Leave the skins of the aubergines on as they enhance the texture of the dish.

Ordinarily, such a dish is oven-baked but because many Chinese homes lack modern cookers, the wok is used instead. It is, in practice, the perfect utensil for preparing this Italian-inspired dish. It can be served hot or at room temperature, and is delicious as a vegetarian plate or as a wonderful accompaniment to grilled meats.

Ingredients

  • 450 g (1 lb) Chinese aubergines or ordinary aubergines
  • 225 g (8 oz) fresh or tinned tomatoes
  • 75 ml (3 fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoonlemon juice

Method

Trim the aubergines and cut them on the diagonal into 5 x 1-cm (2 x ½-in) slices.

If you are using fresh tomatoes, plunge them into a large pan of boiling water for a few seconds, removing them with a slotted spoon. Then peel, seed and cut them into 2.5-cm (1-in) chunks. If you are using tinned tomatoes, chop them into small chunks.

Heat a wok or large frying-pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the oil and, when it is moderately hot, add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Then add the aubergine slices, salt and pepper and continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and sugar to the aubergine and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low, cover and cook slowly for 15 minutes until the aubergine is quite tender. Stir in the basil leaves and lemon juice and give the mixture several good stirs. Transfer to a warm platter and serve at once or allow to cool and serve at room temperature.

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