Seasonal Eating: Aubergine Pate

It must be funny living in a country without seasons. Take somewhere like Los Angeles. The thermometer hovers round 28°C in August, and plummets to a still-pretty-balmy 19°C in December. When Londoner’s bodies are begin to shut down mid-January with just eight hours of sunlight, those pesky Californians are basking in a full ten hours of not just sunlight, but actual sunshine. No wonder they look so good.

If you live somewhere without seasons, then life must be pretty consistent. Healthy shakes, salads and jogging on the beach come all year round. In London, such consistency is trickier. The prospect of battling my way to the lido in horizontal drizzle to trawl up and down the pool in December couldn’t be more different to the joyous lengths swam under a clear blue sky in July.

Los Angeles in December

London in December

I was just looking back over a few old blog posts, and marvelling at how much my eating habits change dependent on the time of year. Back in that bleak patch in March, where it seemed that winter might never end, supper was a highlight of the day. We got stuck in a phase of cooking up something big and hot and comforting - and then just rustling up a bread and butter pudding with custard to finish. Sadly our rapidly-expanding waistlines put an end to this particular treacle-sponge-custard-pudding phase.

With this current bout of Biarritz-esque weather, I’ve gone off the idea of supper a bit. The sun wanes my appetite, and there’s no point cooking up a big meal when all I fancy is something to tide me over. Last night I made an aubergine pate, based on a recipe from The Real Food Cookbook. I’m not sure what the difference is between an aubergine pate and baba ganoush is - so please don’t pick me up on it - they seem pretty similar. A really quick, and simple recipe though which makes a nice, big amount. Enough to share with a couple of friends and still have some left over for lunch.

Recipe: Aubergine Pate

4 Aubergines (really cheap from street markets, really expensive from supermarkets)
1 clove of garlic, crushed (I used a BIG one, but will use a medium one next time I make this, because the garlic’s raw - so pretty potent)
1 handful of parsley
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 dried chilli, chopped finely (I only used 1/2 because my dried Kashmiri chillies are HOT - use more or less though dependent on potency and taste)

1. Heat the oven to 200°C. Put the whole aubergines in the oven for 1 hour - turning half way through cooking. They should be like week-old, wrinkly party balloons at the end of cooking.
2. Run them under the cold tap, so you don’t burn your hands, and then peel the skin off.
3. Put the aubergine flesh into a sieve, and gently press, so you squeeze the water out.
4. Put the aubergine, crushed garlic, parsley, olive oil and chilli in a blender, and whizz up until it has a mayonnaise-like consistency.
5. I served with a couple of slices of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s soda bread and a simple pea & beetroot salad dressed with lemon juice and olive oil - the salad would have benefitted from some mint, but mine’s just dropped dead in the heat. Can’t have it all, eh?!

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