This is for the
many people OK, one person, who has been clamouring for the recipe.
I first encountered this under a friend’s pergola in the West Country (I believe she had pulled the recipe from a magazine) and haven’t stopped eating it since. It is divine.
Slice up a couple of nice, firm, shiny aubergines (eggplants – why are they called eggplants?) lengthwise. The slices should be about 1cm or half an inch thick, not so thin that they get burnt to a crisp and not so fat that they take for ever to cook. Coat the aubergine slices with olive oil (I find the spray stuff you can buy invaluable for this sort of thing) and then grill them. As in all things (sadly) too much oil is better than too little. They are sublime cooked on an outdoor gas grill or barbecue, but work very successfully on a normal indoor grill. Take care not to burn them.
When they are golden brown and soft as butter, take them off the grill and shred them into thin strips in a shallow bowl. If they seem ridiculously oily, pat them with some kitchen towel. Halve about a punnet of cherry tomatoes or other small, sweet tomatoes and stir them in.
In the meantime make a pesto in your food processor from a big bunch of mint, three or four tablespoons of shelled pistachios, a couple of cloves of garlic, some salt and pepper and a stalk of lemongrass if you have it to hand (it’s not necessary but adds a certain je ne sais quoi). Add the juice of half a lemon and enough olive oil to make a pesto-y paste. Then stir the pesto into the tomatoes and aubergines.
The great thing about this dish is that it gets better and better as the flavours mingle. Make it early on the day you’re going to serve it and it will sit quite happily in the fridge. I always make it with two aubergines so that I have plenty left over for lunches etc.
Serve with grilled chicken or lamb, a little rocket salad, a hunk of delicious bread and an enormous glass of rose’.