Watching Ramael Scully, head chef at Nopi, making this roast aubergine, feta and pomegranate salad from scratch, we couldn’t wait to get home and try it ourselves: the easy-to-delicious ratio here is highly favourable. ‘I can’t say exactly where it came from’, says Scully. ‘In common with a lot of Ottolenghi food, it uses Mediterranean and Middle Eastern staples: coriander, pomegranate, walnut, olive oil, chilli. And it combines sweet, salty and sour flavours.’
We see it as a great London dish, with cosmopolitan ingredients you’ll find in Turkish groceries or good supermarkets. The ingredient list looks lengthy, but much of it will be in your store cupboard already, and the preparation is a doddle. It looks gorgeous, and works well as a midweek supper for friends, or as part of a lavish celebratory feast. Sweetness, creaminess, crunch – all in one healthy, sophisticated yet inexpensive dish.
- Use baking paper, not foil, to roast the aubergines, and cut them generously: better too thick than too thin.
- Make the coriander pesto nice and runny, since the feta and the salsa are quite solid. If you’re short on time, leave this element out and just use fresh coriander leaves as a garnish.
- For the salsa, use good-quality sherry vinegar. You can make this bit in advance if you like, but the rest of the recipe is best prepare fresh.
- If you can find it, use labneh instead of Greek yoghurt and mascarpone. At Nopi, Scully strains his for days, but if you fancy making your own, just strain thick Greek yoghurt through cheesecloth overnight.
- The best feta to look for is salty Turkish feta. When you’re whipping it up, try to get lots of air into it, and loosen it with a little water if it seems too stiff. Add extra Dijon if you like it with more bite.