If you’re going to go to the effort of firing up the barbecue, it makes sense to use it for more than just a quick chargrilling of some burgers or sausages. To really get the most out of your barbecue and to keep those delicious smoky aromas going for longer, it makes sense to cook your salads, side dishes and even desserts over the embers. Mediterranean vegetables lend themselves particularly well to slow grilling, as do stone fruits like peaches, apricots, plums or nectarines.
This aubergine salad is a wonderful barbecue side dish, or an entire main course in its own right. Plump, glossy aubergines are grilled over the flames until wrinkled, the flesh becoming tender and deliciously smoky inside the skin. Scoop this out and mix with some tangy balsamic vinegar and pomegranate molasses to accentuate the sweet, caramelized flavours, then toss with peppery leaves and slow-cooked shallots. I normally scatter pomegranate seeds over aubergine dishes: they go so well together, and the vibrant seeds perk up the dark vegetable both visually and in terms of flavour. However, recently I decided to experiment with using redcurrants. These jewel-like berries are the English answer to pomegranate seeds, and work just as well strewn through salads, where they add a gorgeous pop of colour and welcome bite of sharpness.
I love this dish with Middle Eastern grilled chicken shawarma, and it’s also excellent with chargrilled lamb chops . However, to make it into a substantial main course, add some thick slices of salty, grilled halloumi. I can’t get enough of this bouncy, tangy cheese during the summer, and here its creamy, strong flavour and delightful squeaky texture are wonderful against the background of the smoky aubergine and sharp currants. It’s a great barbecue dish for vegetarians, full of exciting Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours but also making the most of beautiful English summer berries.
here's what you'll need...
- 3 large aubergines
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 banana shallots, finely sliced
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- 80g watercress
- Salt and pepper
- 80g redcurrants, stalks removed
- 4 tbsp pine nuts
- 250g halloumi
- 4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- Mint leaves, to garnish (optional)