Nigel Slater’s recipe for aubergine with feta, cashews and ras el hanout

Lifestyle

The recipe
Cut 400g of aubergine in half lengthways then into 2cm cubes. Warm 120ml of olive oil in a pan, add the aubergine then cook over a moderate to low heat for about 10-15 minutes until the aubergine is lightly crisp on the outside and is soft and silky within. It is probably easier to do this in two batches.

Peel and finely crush a clove of garlic and add to the pan. Roughly chop 3 medium-sized tomatoes and stir into the aubergine with 2 level tbsp of ras el hanout. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes, keeping the heat only moderately high, until the tomatoes have softened.

Drain a 400g can of chickpeas and stir into the aubergine with 12 shredded mint leaves, simmer for 5 minutes then crumble 200g of feta over the aubergine and chickpeas, taste to check the seasoning (it is likely to need black pepper) and serve. Enough for 2-3.

The trick
Once the aubergine has browned lightly, lower the heat and cover with a lid if you wish, and let it continue cooking on a low heat to encourage it to become soft inside. Stir from time to time to prevent it sticking to the pan. Once the tomatoes have softened and there is plenty of juice, check to make sure it doesn’t evaporate.

The twist
You can add the canning liquor from the canned chickpeas if you wish. I prefer not to, but others seem to like it. You will need to cook everything for a little longer in light of the extra liquid. Change the spices: instead of ras el hanout use your own mix or a proprietary chilli paste. Swap the chickpeas for haricot beans.