I still don’t think I’ve warmed up from Saturday yet, despite spending the best part of the day hiding under a duvet. My morning mission started as it always should – a sausage roll for breakfast in Borough, a spot of shopping – pork to cook that excellent vindaloo (see ‘Pig in a pickle’ below) and a few cannelles. By this point I couldn’t feel my extremities any more, but that didn’t stop my friend Elly, a cafe owner from Bristol, and I walking along the Thames to see our mutual friend Petra selling her amazing chocolates at the Slow Food Festival by the Southbank Centre.
A couple of roasted almond brownies later and I was starting to feel a bit more perky. Some hot chocolate with Pedro Ximenez sherry cream and the warmth was emanating out from my insides. And then lunch – it’s often difficult at these events to avoid the sausages or burgers which, although great, aren’t so appealing to vegetarians and Elly is a veggie. We tracked down a lovely little stall selling Arabic food – I’d met the chap before and he sells at various markets around the place. Pungent sumac, a ground middle-eastern berry, fragrant sesame-studded zatar, a wonderful spice mix, and rosewater and pomegranate molasses vinegar were all on sale, but it was the salads that caught my eye. The recipe below is a homage to one of his delicious dishes and, like the festival, requires some very slow cooking.
Aubergine and roasted onion salad with walnuts and mint
Pomegranate molasses is available in larger supermarkets, middle-eastern shops and online
Ingredients (Serves 2 as a side salad)
- 1 medium aubergine
- 1 large onion
- 2 tbs pomegranate molasses
- 2 tbs brown sugar
- handful of walnuts, preferably Iranian
- handful of fresh mint, leaves picked and chopped
Dice the aubergine into 1 centimetre cubes. Peel, halve the onion and then slice it quite thinly.
Place a pan on your hob on its lowest heat setting. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and pop in the vegetables, sugar and a pinch of salt. Add the aubergine and onion and cook very slowly, stirring occasionally until the onion is quite dark brown and the aubergine very soft. This may take an hour or so, but don’t rush it by turning the heat up.
Once done, turn out the heat and stir through the pomegranate molasses and scrunch in the walnuts. Allow to cool and fold through the mint. Serve at room temperature as part of a mezze, with pitta breads or some feta or halloumi.