This is a delicous savoury Aubergine based tart. Throughout my years at University I got more and more into cooking vegetarian style dishes - not only was it much cheaper, but it also challenged me to understand new flavours and combinations more. We don't have to eat meat for every single meal of the day - in fact as William Cowper aptly put it "Variety is the spice of life, that gives it all it's flavour".
Serves 2 or 4 if you are serving with other dishes
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Spices Used: Aleppo Chilli Flakes, Za'atar (One Thousand and One Night's Chest).
1 small aubergine
2 cloves of garlic
A squeeze of lemon juice
2 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp table salt
1 sheet puff pastry
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (2 ounces; 60g)
100 g goats cheese
30 g grated gouda or mozerella (any cheese that's fairly neutral in taste)
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp Aleppo chilli flakes
3 tbsp Za'atar (plus extra to sprinkle over the top)
Freshly ground black pepper
Begin by removing the skin and bottom from the garlic cloves and finely chop. Set aside as this will be mixed with the aubergine after it's been soaked in the salted water.
Slice your aubergine into 1/4 inch size cubes. Fill a medium bowl with water and the 3 tbsp of table salt and put your aubergine in here (this will not give them a salty taste, see the tip at the bottom for explanation.) Leave to soak for 20 minutes.
Heat your oven to 200℃. Take your puff pasty and unravel it out onto a baking tray (I use jus-rol). Note you do not have to remove the pastry from the paper at this point - the paper just acts as a non stick agent. Fold over each of the four edges of the pastry by around 3 cm's, so that it has little edges.
By this time your aubergine will be ready. Pour away the salt water they were sitting in and rinse with fresh water and blot dry with kitchen roll.
Put your aubergine in a bowl and mix with the olive oil, sea salt, pepper, garlic and lemon juice.
Put the aubergine on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes, giving them a mix halfway through.
After 20 minutes remove the aubergine from the oven. Increase the temperature to 220℃. Take your Za'atar and 2-3 tbsp of olive oil and mix. Spread over the tart base evenly.
Crumble your goats cheese evenly around the base before adding the grated cheese of your choice. Drizzle the honey over cheese and evenly sprinkle the Aleppo chilli's over the tart.
Allow your aubergine to cool for a few minutes before adding to the tart, making sure you evenly distribute them.
Bake for another 10 minutes, or until the tart's golden. When you remove the tart sprinkle a generous amount of Za'atar all over, as well as some fresh parsley should you have some to hand.
Tip: Aubergine is an extremely absorbent vegetable, which is why if you don't soak it in salt water it absorbs such a huge amount of oil/liquid. By soaking it in salt water you allow osmosis to occur - the water particles in the aubergine are replaced by the salt particles which makes it less absorbent, and thus far easier to cook with!