Veg that grows together, goes together. Aubergine is close friends with other Mediterranean favourites: tomatoes, basil, garlic and capers. If you pair it with those, whether in caponata, ratatouille, imam bayildi or aubergine parmiagiana, you can't go far wrong.
They’re a sponge for a huge range of other flavours as well. Roast in cubes and toss with couscous, yoghurt and harissa – or lightly stir-fry with garlic, spring onions, soy sauce, wine vinegar and sesame oil. The options are practically as endless as your imagination.
Keep in the fridge. They should last about a week. They can become slightly bitter the longer you keep them, but there’s no need to salt aubergines, as modern varieties are grown to be much sweeter than they used to be.
The UK season usually runs from July to October.
Country of origin
Grown in Spain and France.
Don’t miss graffiti aubergines in late summer. They have a distinctive purple and white mottled skin and a delicate flavour.
Organic aubergine farmer
We grow aubergines on our Riverford farms during the UK season. If you’re lucky enough to find a graffiti aubergine in your box, it was grown by Adrian Izzard, a very committed organic farmer near Cambridge. The rest of the year, your aubergines come from our Spanish grower Paco Locano in sunny Almeria.
Barbequed slices of aubergine tend to stick and tear; it’s better to cook them whole, until the skin is burnt and split, and the flesh is soft and collapsing. Leave the green calyx at the top; it will hold everything together. Rub the skin lightly with oil and place them directly on the bars of the BBQ. Keep turning every few mins to get an even cook. In about 20 mins (depending on size) they will start to soften and blister. They are ready when the whole thing feels perfectly soft. Always squeeze with a pair of tongs, not your fingers; they love to belch scalding steam when prodded. Put aside until cool enough to handle, then peel away and discard the skin. You’ll be left with a messy, smoky mass; perfect to be folded into a stew, lengthened into a sauce or blended for a dip. You could even dress the whole thing warm with olive oil, feta, fresh herbs and toasted nuts for a light lunch.
No BBQ? To ape this method, roast aubergines whole at 190°C until collapsing, then slightly burn the skin over a gas ring flame to create the smoky flavour.