Ainsley Harriott's Cheese and Walnut-Stuffed Aubergines

Inspired by a traditional Corsican dish, Ainsley Harriott's simple Cheese and Walnut-Stuffed Aubergines are flavoured with fresh herbs and lemon. As seen on ITV's Ainsley's Mediterranean Cookbook.

Ainsley’s Mediterranean Cookbook
A journey through the diverse cuisines of the Mediterranean region.
With recipes ranging from Moroccan tagines to Italian desserts.
All laid out in Ainsley's clear, accessible, and foolproof style.

Introduction

Aubergines à la Bonifacienne are plump juicy aubergines stuffed with cheese and are a speciality of the town of Bonifacio in Corsica. Full of the flavours of the Mediterranean, they’re perfect for a light meal with a side salad or as a main course served with a simple tomato sauce (see page 22 of Ainsley's Mediterranean Cookbook). Traditionally, the Corsicans use brocciu sheep’s cheese, but a hard goats’ cheese also works well. I’ve added walnuts to add a lovely texture and rich nutty flavour.

Serves 4 as a main

Ingredients

4 aubergines
200ml milk
150g day-old white bread
200g crumbled brocciu or grated vegetarian Italian hard cheese, plus extra to serve
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
50g walnuts, finely chopped, plus extra to serve
8 basil leaves, chopped, plus extra to serve
1 tsp herbes de Provence (or a mix of dried thyme and oregano)
zest of ½ lemon
2 tbsp olive oil, for cooking
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

Instructions

Bring a large saucepan of water to a simmer over a medium heat, add the whole aubergines and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, put the milk into a small bowl, add the bread and set aside to soak for 10 minutes.

When the aubergines are cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthways and carefully scoop out the flesh using a spoon, making sure you leave a 5mm depth of flesh still attached to the skin (this helps keep the aubergine intact). Lay each aubergine half onto kitchen paper, cut-side down, so that any moisture can be absorbed.

Drain the bread, squeezing gently to remove any excess liquid, then put into a large mixing bowl. Roughly chop the aubergine flesh and add to the bowl along with the cheese, garlic, beaten egg, dried chilli flakes, walnuts, basil, herbes de Provence and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly with your hands to combine.

Drizzle the aubergine skins with a little of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then fill each half evenly with the stuffing mixture, packing it down well.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, then fry the aubergines, stuffed-side down, for 5–6 minutes. Do not move them during cooking. Using a spatula or fish slice, carefully flip over and fry for a further 4–5 minutes until golden brown. Alternatively, bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4.

Serve immediately, garnished with extra chopped basil leaves, walnuts and grated cheese, with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

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