Thursday, July 16, 2020

Roasted Eggplant (Aubergines) with Anchovies and Oregano, and a quick batch of Sweet Chilli Jam

"Anchovies and eggplant might sound like an unlikely combination but it's one that really works. The anchovies bring more of a salty depth to the dish (rather than anything really fishy.)" This is a quote from Yotam Ottolenghi's book, SIMPLE. I love this book, and there are so many practical and delicious Middle Eastern inspired recipes in it.

My friends who grow eggplants, often find themselves with too many to use and are always looking for easy and new ways to use them. Or if you are given some by a generous friend this recipe is also for you. I found myself in that situation when my Lebanese eggplant bushes yielded 1 1//2 kilos in one harvest. They stay fresh for days so I wasn't under too much pressure to cook them however  I tried out this new way of using them as a side dish which was delicious. I'm so pleased I harvested them when I did though, as two days later when Mr. HRK and I were checking the bushes, four of the eggplants had been eaten out, presumably by possums. I can't imagine how raw eggplant would be too tasty, however the texture is quite crispy and they are a mild flavour so I suppose it depends how hungry the possums were. I had to laugh though as we have Locky, our large chocolate Border Collie, sleeping very comfortably in his bed on the patio at night, just near this garden.  Need I say anymore, so much for being a watch dog, he is more of a big cuddly bear. He will bark though if he doesn't know our visitors just to alert us, but then the tail starts wagging.


Serves four as a side

4 medium black globe eggplants or 1kilo of any other variety (sliced into 2 cm thick discs)
100 ml olive oil
20g anchovy fillets in oil, drained and finely chopped
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves
5 g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
salt and black pepper

I chopped the eggplant up into short pieces, however next time I think I will cut this variety into long thick pieces, more for presentation than for any other reason.The globe eggplant is best sliced lengthwise into 2-3 cm pieces


Preheat the oven to 220 deg. C fan forced.

Place the eggplants in a large bowl, and mix in 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Then using your hands, if you wish, mix through 70 ml of olive oil to coat them all thoroughly. However if you don't like the idea of using your hands, transfer the eggplant slices to two large baking trays, lined with baking paper, and brush each slice on both sides with the oil. I think the first method is much quicker.

Bake for 35 minutes, and check after 20 minutes just in case they are cooked. Mine were because I was using much smaller slices. They should be cooked through and browned up.

Now for the delicious anchovy dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the anchovies, vinegar, garlic, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Slowly pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, whisking continuously, until combined.

Leftovers of this dish are even more delicious heated up or brought back to room temperature, and served the following day. This one isn't for freezing though. It's lovely as it is,  spooned on top of toasted sourdough and also works as a side dish to all kinds of mains.

 A batch Sweet Chilli Jam

It's time to start cleaning out my freezer and use up some of the frozen bags of chillies that I have squirrelled away during Summer when the chilli bushes are at their best. Frozen chillies worked perfectly this time. I left them in the frig overnight, and they were marginally softer than when freshly picked. They still minced up well in the food processor.

Ingredients and equipment: 
(A large batch)

30 medium mild red chillies (or any combination of other mild chillies you might have),including seeds
8 small Birds Eye chillies (very hot), including seeds
3 red capsicums
4 large brown onions
4 cloves crushed garlic
2 cups of white sugar
1 cup of white cooking vinegar
1 cup water
juice of 3 lemons or limes
2 teaspoons fish sauce
Pair of plastic gloves for hand protection
7-8 medium jam jars for this recipe


Wash the chillies and dry them.
Have your food processor ready to use on your kitchen bench.
(At this stage I generally have my small jam bottles on a short cycle in the dishwasher so that they will be sterilised and nice and hot when the jam is ready and I can just ladle in the hot, sweet and spicy finished jam. Or you may prefer to have them washed in soapy water, and ready to sterilise in a warm oven set to 120 deg F.)

I took all of the chillies, capsicums, and onions, 2 cutting boards and a couple of bowls outside onto my patio, made a cup of tea, and then sat down in a comfortable chair at our outside table in the sun and started chopping, enjoying the beautiful day outside.

Top and tail the chillies, and don't bother removing the seeds, except in the capsicums.
I chopped them all up roughly outside.

Place the chopped chillies, capsicums, onions and garlic in your food processor and blitz until they are chopped into small pieces.

Add the contents of your food processor to a large saucepan, add the sugar and other liquid ingredients.

Bring the jam slowly to the boil, which will dissolve the sugar. This is where you test the taste to check if it is too hot or not sweet enough. Very carefully take out a teaspoon of the jam, taste it, being careful not to burn your mouth, and if it is too hot and spicy, add another chopped capsicum. Or if it's not spicy enough for you, add another hot chilli.

Let the jam cook on a rolling boil for 45 minutes. To quote Rhonda from her Down to Earth blog, "a rolling boil is when the jam boils and even when you put a spoon in it to stir it, it continues boiling, but won't boil over". Very important.

After 45 minutes on a rolling boil and being stirred, the jam should be the right consistency.

Ladle it into the hot jars, put the lids on straight away and tighten them.

Leave them out on the kitchen bench to completely cool, label, and then store them in your pantry. The vinegar and sugar will act as very efficient preservatives. The jam should last for about 6 months in the pantry.

I always place a bottle in my frig straight away to use, as I will have already tasted it.

You might hear quite a few of the jar lids popping over the next few hours, ensuring the jars are well sealed.

This batch was just how we like it, suitable to eat as a condiment at anytime of day, with the taste of chilli but not too much heat. Add more Bird's Eye chillies if you like it really hot. You can find my original recipe for this jam here, and I changed this recipe slightly to an extra lemon and an extra capsicum as I always end up adding another capsicum to the original two anyway. The pectin in the extra lemon helped it to set even better than before.

These two recipes aren't mutually exclusive, as we ate this Eggplant dish as a side with my
Tuna Kedgeree, and a dollop of the Sweet Chilli Jam. Delicious. I think it's pretty hilarious and quite wonderful, that my daughter was telling me the other day that our son-in-law Daniel, has really taken to my Sweet Chilli Jam, and my Mango Chutney. More often than not, they will be sitting down to dinner, and he will say, "Do you know what would go really well with this dish, Pauline's Sweet Chilli Jam." So off he goes to the frig and comes back with a bottle and adds some to his plate. Needless to say they have now run out, so some of this batch will be heading to Cairns very soon.

Here in Queensland, we are feeling very relieved for the economy and everyone's mental health that it is almost back to business as usual, whilst southerners are chafing at the bit to get into Queensland, despite the borders being closed. We are all hoping and praying that there won't be a recurrence of the virus in Queensland and if everyone behaves themselves and remains vigilant there shouldn't be. However the staggering increase in daily infections, albeit all around the world,  is very sobering, and reminds us that we are not yet in the clear here in Queensland by any stretch of the imagination.

Stay well and happy,

Warm wishes



  1. wow that eggplant stirfry looks droolworthy!!! I want spread some of those chili jam on my toast and top some of the eggplants :-)

  2. I have two eggplants on the tree now, and when they are ready I’m going to make this eggplant dish. Thank you for the recipe, Pauline.

    1. Thanks Nil, Hope you enjoy making it and eating it.There's not much cooking involved really.

  3. Pauline, that jam sounds delicious. I didn't get as many chillies this year for some reason. I know some Queenslanders are very nervous about our border opening so hope travellers are considerate.

    1. Thanks Chel, It's still a real worry isn't it? We just need to keep really healthy in any case scenario.

  4. i love chilli jam, and i love eggplants. i would never have thought of combining them with anchovies i have to say. everyone seems to love ottolenghi's books but i've never really got stuck into them. i do love middle eastern-type food tho. hope you're keeping warm and well

    1. Thanks Sherry, yes it's good to discover a new taste sensation. Fingers crossed that life continues covid free here in Queensland. Loving some Winter weather here in the North. We are as chilly as Brisbane up here :) Best wishes, Pauline

  5. Eggplants are so versatile and also healthy, love this meal, very nutritious and yum!

    1. Thanks Natalia, it is such a delicious combination of flavours.Stay safe and well.

  6. I made a relish using eggplant, tomatoes and capsicums this weekend and have one eggplant leftover. So will make a variation of this tonight. Thanks for the inspiration and stay safe!

    1. Thanks Tandy, this is so tasty, and tasted even better the next day as leftovers. Your relish sounds yummy! You stay safe as well.

  7. A great recipe Pauline and a timely posting as I have a couple of nice globe aubergine that need eating. I love the sound or the anchovy dressing. This with some grilled chicken and your in heaven...

    1. Thanks Ron, I really hope you enjoy this dish. It's so good to taste a combination of new flavours isn't it. Stay safe where you are. Good to know who in my blogging world enjoy eggplant :)

    2. Pauline, I just wanted to get back to you and let you know we tried your aubergine dish last night and we loved it. We only had two nice sized aubergines so we added a couple of zucchini. Instead of roasting the veg in the oven, we grilled them on the bbq which imparted a nice smokey taste. Served with grilled chicken thighs and fresh pita and feta cheese. But, we agreed we could make a meal of just the aubergine dish and a stack of fresh pita.

  8. Hi Ron, That sounds really delicious and I'm all for trying different ways of cooking. Your way gives the eggplant a Baba Ganoush style, delicious with anchovies. So pleased you enjoyed it. Thanks so much, Cheers, Pauline


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