“Avoid metal and use only glass, wood or plastic bowls and utensils when preparing this dish,” Razvan advises
TO DRINK: Heritage Heroes The Young Airhawk 2011
Tomatoes stuffed with Romanian aubergine salad
- 4 medium or 8 small aubergines
- lemon juice
- ½ onion (if frying) or ¼ onion (if using raw), finely chopped
- 60ml (¼ cup) sunflower oil + 15ml (1 tbsp) if frying the onion
- 1 large egg
- 8 large ripe tomatoes
- fresh dill, chopped, to garnish
- baguettes or ciabatta, to serve
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Rinse the aubergines and prick them all over using a wooden toothpick. Place them on a large baking tray and bake in the oven until soft and slightly charred, about 30 – 45 minutes. Remove the aubergines from the oven and allow to cool slightly (they are easier to peel while warm).
Peel the aubergines and place the flesh on a wooden board. chop the flesh with a wooden spoon and sprinkle with salt and lemon juice (the salt will help to release the juices and the lemon juice will stop the oxidation process). Place the wooden board at an angle to drain the bitter juices, about 30 – 45 minutes. The longer you drain them, the sweeter the flesh will be.
This step is optional as some might prefer the dish with fried onion, and others might prefer raw onion for taste and crunch. Chop the onion very finely (don’t grate it). Heat 15ml (1 tbsp) of sunflower oil in a pan and sauté the onion until translucent. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool. If you prefer to use raw onion, set it aside after chopping finely.
This step is most important in getting the perfect texture, taste and colour. Once all the juices have drained, place the flesh of the aubergines in a food processor with a plastic blade. If your food processor doesn’t have a plastic blade, use a glass bowl and wooden spoon. Add the raw egg and onion and combine well until the consistency of the mixture is fine (but not too fine). Slowly add the 60ml (¼ cup) of sunflower oil while the food processor is running or while you are mixing. The oil must resemble a thin piece of rope or wire when you pour it in. Aubergines tend to absorb fat so it needs to be done very slowly.
Season with salt and lemon juice. Place the aubergine salad in a non-metallic bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to cool down and for the taste to develop.
Cut off the tops of the tomatoes and keep aside to use as lids. Scoop out the flesh and seeds from the tomatoes. Fill the tomatoes with the aubergine salad, garnish with dill and place the tops of the tomatoes at an angle on top of the stuffed tomatoes. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with fresh baguettes or ciabatta.
When buying aubergines, choose the thin or small ones as they have fewer seeds and a sweeter taste. Don’t store the aubergine salad in metal containers as this will oxidize the aubergine, turning it black and affecting its taste. Use sunflower oil and not olive oil as olive oil will overpower the taste of the aubergine.