Smoky aubergines with polenta

Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


    • Ready in

      50 min

Appears in

The Part-Time Vegetarian: Flexible Recipes to Go (Nearly) Meat-Free

The Part-Time Vegetarian

By Nicola Graimes

Published 2015

  • About

Aubergines/eggplants work so well with the comforting texture of the soft, creamy polenta/cornmeal. Chipotle chillies, or dried jalapeños, give a lovely smoky heat to this dish – simply soak them in a small amount of just-boiled water until softened. You could use 2–3 teaspoons chipotle paste or 1 teaspoon smoked hot paprika instead, if you prefer.


  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 6–8 baby aubergines/eggplants, depending on size, halved lengthways, leaving the stem attached, or 2 aubergines/eggplants, cubed
  • 200 g/7 oz/1 cups instant polenta/cornmeal
  • tbsp butter
  • 25 g/1 oz/ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 handful of flaked/slivered almonds, toasted
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • To make the dressing, soak the chipotle chilli in 4 tablespoons just-boiled water and leave to steep for 20 minutes until softened.
  • Meanwhile, turn the grill/broiler to high. Mix together 3 tablespoons of the olive oil with the balsamic vinegar in a roasting dish. Season with salt and pepper, add the aubergines/eggplants and turn until coated in the marinade. Grill/broil for 20–30 minutes, turning once or twice, until tender and blackened in places.
  • To finish the dressing, drain the chipotle, reserving the soaking water, and roughly chop. Discard the seeds and put the chipotle in a pestle and mortar, then grind to a paste with the garlic and a large pinch of sea salt. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the onion and coriander/cilantro. Mix together the lime juice, sugar and the remaining oil and stir the mixture into the chipotle. Leave to one side.
  • To make the polenta/cornmeal, bring 850 ml/29 fl oz/scant cups water and the chipotle soaking water to the boil in a saucepan. Gradually pour in the polenta/cornmeal, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, and cook for 8 minutes, or until it has thickened to the consistency of mashed potato. Stir in the butter and Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the polenta/ cornmeal onto serving plates and top with the aubergine/eggplant and the chipotle dressing. Scatter the almonds over the dish before serving.