Our Top Pick in Cookbooks for July is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's paean to vegetables, River Cottage Veg! Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt raves: "His approach is practical and practiced, his enthusiasm boundless and inspiring. Vegging out has just taken on a new and delicious meaning."
Roasted potatoes and eggplants
This is a very simple dish, and one that doesn’t take long to cook. You can serve it alongside a rich stew, or as part of a spread of meze-type dishes. There are various ways to finish it that subtly alter its character: stir in the finely grated zest of a lemon when it comes out of the oven, or dust with hot smoked paprika for a patatas bravas effect. Leftovers are great in an omelet or frittata.
- 1/4 cup / 60ml canola or olive oil
- 2 medium eggplants (about 1 pound / 500g)
- About 1 pound / 500g potatoes (any type will do), unpeeled
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- Lemon juice
- TO FINISH (OPTIONAL) Finely grated lemon zest, hot smoked paprika, or chopped herbs
Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C. Put the oil in a large nonstick roasting pan and heat in the oven for a good 10 minutes, until the oil is sizzling hot.
Meanwhile, cut the eggplants and potatoes into 1-inch / 2.5cm cubes, tip into a bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Take the roasting pan from the oven and place on a stable, heatproof surface. Add the eggplants and potatoes and turn to coat in the oil, being careful not to splash yourself. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Remove from the oven, stir in the garlic, and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are golden brown all over. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, a little more salt and pepper if needed, and any finishing touches you fancy. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Omit the potatoes and use a total of 5 medium eggplants (about 21/2 pounds / 1.2kg). Toss the cubed eggplant with 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin; 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander; and a small fresh red chile, finely chopped (or a good pinch of cayenne). After the initial 30 minutes’ roasting time, add a drained and rinsed 14-ounce / 400g can of chickpeas, along with the sliced garlic, and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and add the grated zest of a small lemon and lots of chopped parsley and cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature.