Chargrilled Aubergine Risotto

Please note: for this recipe you will either need a gas hob, a BBQ or a lighter and a heap of patience!

For the Chargrilled Paste:

x2 Aubergine

x5 Garlic Cloves (trust me)

1/4 TSP Cracked Black Pepper

x1 TSP Salt

x3 TBSP Nutritional Yeast

x2 TBSP Sesame Oil

For the Risotto:

x1 TBSP Olive Oil

x1 Mug of Arborio Rice

x1 Red onion

x2 Vegetable Stock Cubes

1 + 1/2 Pints of boiling water (for stock)

250ml of White Wine

x1 TBSP Dried Chives

5-6 Fresh Sage Leaves

100g Green Beans

For the Garnish:

A large handful of Pumpkin Seeds

A Sprinkling of he dried Chives

Salt & Pepper to season

If someone had come to me a few years ago and told me that Aubergines would soon be one of my favourite foods, I would’ve laughed all the way out of my kitchen and into the slimy Aubergine patch where they belonged. Little did I know I just had no idea to cook them. They can’t be treated the same as a courgette or a pepper, which to me was outrageous, I’m a minimal effort kinda gal. With a little extra love and attention they can be transformed from overcooked, bland little slugs into crispy, smokey delights or even blended into a sauce like I’m doing here.

The chargrilling process is a little precarious but if you’re anything like me, you’ll love the danger.

Turn your oven on and let it preheat to 180, you can start chargrilling while you’re waiting.

Wash and dry the Aubergine, then cut off the green bit at the end. Pierce it a few times with a fork (so it doesn’t explode.. although that might be funny) and pierce it with a metal skewer. You can use a chopstick but PLEASE be careful when it’s near the naked flame. You have been warned.

Place the Aubergines onto the naked flame of the hob and leave for 2 minutes before checking to see if they’re starting to burn, which is exactly what you want. Make sure you check if the skewer is hot before you touch it so you don’t burn your fingers! When you can hear them starting to crack and hiss, they’re ready to turn. Repeat until all sides are nice and black and the middle is starting to soften.

Transfer the Aubergines onto a very well oiled baking tray (olive oil is fine, don’t use the Sesame yet) and use a knife and fork to open them up to let the insides cook. Scatter the uncut and unpeeled garlic cloves around them. Sprinkle with a large pinch of salt and put it the oven for 15 minutes, you can flip them over half way through. When they’re done, take them out and set to one side to cool a little.

Boil the kettle and prepare your stock.

In a large pan, heat the Olive Oil and when it’s starting to bubble, add the rice and chopped onion. Fry the rice for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously before adding the White wine.

Now the wine is in and immediately being soaked up by the dry rice, add the chives, chopped sage leaves and a good slug of the vegetable stock. Stir continuously to avoid sticking and when the stock has been soaked up, add a little more. Repeat these steps until all the stock has been used. At this point the rice will be cooked and you can add the chopped Green Beans, mix them in and turn off the gas, the heat from the Risotto will cook them.

Now for the fun part. Add the Aubergine, Sesame Oil, Nutritional Yeast, Pepper, Salt and Garlic which will need to be popped out of it’s papery cases to a high power blender and whizz up until you have a smooth paste with little black flecks from the chargrilled skin in it.

Use a spatula to scrape every last glorious bit of the paste into the rice and stir through until everything is coated. Don’t forget to give it a little taste at this point to see if you think it needs any extra seasoning. Everyones taste buds are different!

Leave the Risotto in the pan to keep warm and quickly heat some Pumpkin seeds to scatter over the top in a totally dry pan (aka no oil) watch them like a hawk because they toast very quickly and you can turn the heat off once the skins start to separate and they’re a nice golden brown colour.

Serve up your risotto and sprinkle with the toasted seeds and a few more of the dried chives to make it look fancy and VOILA! You’re ready to eat!

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