I love broccoli. It’s one of the foods I really crave when I’ve been overindulging, which, as you know, happens fairly regularly. I came up with this recipe after a couple of days of eating, when I got back to my flat and happened to have some aubergine and broc in the fridge. I wanted something wholesome and nutritious, but tasty and sating at the same time. I particularly love the nutty flavour broccoli takes on when you roast it in a bit of olive oil in a hot oven: it’s somehow more interesting and satisfying than just blanching it, and it retains its crunch a little better, which works really well against the squish of the roasted aubergine. You can add a dollop of crème fraîche to the dressing if you find it a bit sharp, but personally I like it that way – I love how the acidity cuts the creamy aubergine flesh.
For the salad
Half a head of broccoli
One teaspoon of dried red chilli flakes
One garlic clove, sliced
One medium aubergine
Two handfuls of baby spinach leaves
1/2 teaspoon of Maldon sea salt
Glug of olive oil
For the dressing
Half a small tin of anchovies in olive oil, chopped
The juice of half a lemon
A handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
Five teaspoons of olive oil
A splash of tabasco
Half a teaspoon of honey
Half a teaspoon of crème fraîche (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180. Slice the aubergine into hearty rounds (about 3cm thick). In a bowl, coat the aubergine in the oil, salt and chilli. Then lay them onto a flat baking tray and place in the hot oven for ten minutes. In the meantime, cut the florets of broccoli off the stalk, reserving the stalk and any leaves, as these can be roasted too. Cut the florets into bite sized pieces – some might be the right size but you might have to slice others in half. People tend to throw the stalk away, but it’s actually just as tasty as the rest of this brassica if you get to the tender inside bit, so waste not, want not. Cut off the rough end of the stalk, and peel with a knife until you get to the tender pale bit inside. Slice into 2cm thick rectangles.
After the aubergine has cooked for ten minutes, remove the tray from the oven and turn the rounds over. Now add on the broccoli florets, stalk and any leaves. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes.
While that’s cooking you can make the dressing. Briskly combine the lemon juice, olive oil, tabasco, honey (and crème fraîche, if using) until it’s all emulsified and then add in the chopped anchovies, garlic and parsley.
When the vegetables are ready, take them out of the oven and let them sit for five minutes. Arrange the baby spinach on the plate, scatter over the aubergine and broccoli, and drizzle over you dressing. This dish works well on its own as a healthy supper, or on the side of something like roast lamb.