Homage to Carol Kicinski - Aubergine Crostini



Carol of Simply Gluten free is my adoptee for this month and I had been planning to make something from her blog and write about it over the next weekend. However, today I pulled a shiny black aubergine out of the fridge and felt inspired to slice, grill and dress it up with some, tomato, home made pesto and goats cheese in homage to a similar recipe on Carol's blog.

I call it an homage, because although she was the muse, Carol lives in sunny California, while I am languishing in Dorset and wondering whether it is too soon to think about retiring my thickest winter coat for a slightly more spring-like garment. So, where Carol gives a light and summery raw onion and tomato salsa; I give you, home made pesto, tomato ragout and chevre cheese, grilled until rich and bubbling; for a rather more cold weather version to cosset and keep out the chill.

These little aubergine crostini still have the summer flavour of basil and that hopeful green of early spring. But if you live somewhere where the tomatoes are good and flavourful, the onions sweet and mild; then visit Carol for her bite of summer and think of us less fortunate souls, waiting for the clouds to part.

I give a rough recipe to feed two as a starter.



1 aubergine

sea salt

olive oil



Slice the aubergine into 1 cm thick discs and very lightly sprinkle both sides with salt. Leave them to drain for 30 minutes on kitchen paper. Then press the discs between two new sheets of paper to dry and absorb the salt, drizzle with olive oil and grill until bronzed and cooked through.

While the aubergine is salting, get on with the ragout

1 can of chopped plum tomatoes

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 bay leaf

sprig of fresh thyme

stick of celery

black pepper


Chop the onion and celery finely and sweat in a pan until translucent, add finely chopped garlic and cook for a minute. Add the can of tomatoes, bay, thyme and some black pepper, place a tight fitting lid on the pan, bring up to a simmer and reduce the heat low. Cook covered, stirring occasionally until nearly all the water has absorbed and the sauce is sweet. Cook uncovered for a few minutes if it is too watery.

Pesto

Large handful of fresh basil

handful of pine nuts

couple of desert spoons of grated Parmesan

1 clove of garlic

olive oil

lemon juice


Whiz everything except olive oil and lemon juice in a blender. Add a good slug of olive oil and the good squeeze of lemon juice. Whiz again. Taste and add whichever you think it needs, salt, lemon juice or more oil - or all of them!

Spread the grilled aubergine slices with some pesto, a spoonful of ragout and top with a small piece of goat’s cheese. Grill (on a piece of tin foil) until the cheese and pesto are bubbling. Eat with handfuls of baby spinach leaves.

Thanks Carol!