We’re going vegan today with this recipe, and I think you’re going to like it! I’m posting a little later than I usually would and it’s because this recipe has taken some fine-tuning. Unfortunately, I decided to test-drive this recipe the day before going away on holiday! Clearly, this was a bit of a rookie error in hindsight. Rather than posting something with potential but which I wasn’t really happy with, I decided to delay and try again now that I’m back in the country. Take 2 was definitely worth it!
The original recipe requires smoked paprika, and you are of course still very welcome to experiment with this yourself or substitute the ground cumin with this. However, with the harissa already providing great flavour, the addition of smoked paprika felt too full on and appeared to really overwhelm the entire dish. A bit of a ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ situation going on. The dish also felt like it could use a little more fresh produce and moisture, where chucking in a few gently roasted cherry tomatoes proved a real success. Any fellow lover of Mediterranean and Arabic food will probably agree that upping your lemon game is also nearly always a good idea! I’m really happy with the balance of flavours I ended up with here, but encourage you to experiment like I did if you prefer!
So why have I written ‘1-2 aubergines’ in the Ingredients list? How ambiguous!
Let me explain. This recipe calls for 150g of cous cous, which provides far too much to fill the aubergine halves and serves 4 rather than the 2 people it was intended to (as pictured, in this large serving bowl!). I have made this with 1 aubergine and used the remaining cous cous for lunch, which worked very well for me! However, it would work equally well to add an extra aubergine into the mix and use this to serve 4 instead. Either way, you can’t go wrong – you either get extra servings or leftovers from this.
So this serves 2-4 people, and I’d advise using 1-2 aubergines accordingly. In terms of cooking time, it should around 1hr15 in total. However, hands on preparation time is fairly minimal and should only equate to around 15 minutes of that total. Most of the cooking time is stuff baking in the oven, which gives you a chance to get on with other things. I’d recommend serving this with a light salad.
- 1-2 aubergine, halved lengthways
- 2 tsp harissa
- 150g cous cous
- strips of zest from 1 lemon (3-5 pieces)
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
- 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 30g fresh parsley, finely chopped (save some leaves to serve)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper, for seasoning
How to make it…
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and line a baking tray. Take your aubergine halves, place these in the baking tray and score each fleshy side diagonally (as pictured). Use a splash of boiling water to loosen the harissa paste, and then spread this over each aubergine half. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the aubergine flesh has softened.
- Meanwhile, pour the cous cous into a bowl and add the lemon zest strips. Add 250ml boiling water and cover for 10 minutes. When all the water has been absorbed, use a fork to gently fluff the cous cous. Discard the lemon strips.
- Take the baked aubergine and use a spoon to scoop the flesh out of each half, ensuring that you leave enough intact around the edges for the aubergine skin to hold it’s shape. Roughly break or chop the flesh apart in a bowl, and then stir the aubergine flesh in with the cous cous.
- Next, stir through the lemon juice, ground cumin, toasted pine nuts, chopped parsley, quartered cherry tomatoes and the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop the cous cous back into the aubergine skins until they are fully loaded, and then return to the baking tray to bake for another 15 minutes.
- Serve with a light salad and garnish with any leftover parsley leaves, and enjoy!
Based on ‘Baked Aubergines with lemon infused cous cous’ from ‘Keep it Vegan’ by Aine Carlin.