Roasted aubergine, harissa and feta risotto

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. If Manderley was suggesting crime podcasts to David Cameron after he resigned, and said dream was interrupted by at least four night feeds (I lost count). Dawn broke with baby pooping so catastrophically hard he spat up on my stomach.

Today was a glorious Saturday and therefore I had two hands to cook with (baby being safely ensconced with the Patriarch). It’s nice having two hands to cook with, although admittedly between putting the aubergines in the oven and serving up, there were two loads of washing and the sorting the recycling.

This was going to be a butternut squash risotto but the frozen squash I was roasting fell down the back of the oven (which was here when we moved in ten months ago and which I haven’t ever cleaned) and came out with mystery black dust on it. Thankfully I had got some aubergines with the online shop. I was sleep deprived when I bought them and couldn’t remember what I wanted them for so I was just roasting them as an accompaniment. Squash and Gorgonzola were replaced by aubergine and feta.

The harissa is lovely and spicy, the feta sharp, and the rice creamy. Best enjoyed away from the sulphurous emissions of angelic infants.

SERVES 3 OR 4

Takes 2 hours, but active time is only 30 mins

INGREDIENTS

2 aubergines

200g risotto rice (found this in the back of the cupboard… at least a year old but still edible)

2 thumbs of feta

1 onion

1 clove garlic

1 stock cube

Harissa paste (shop bought is fine, own recipe to follow)

1 tbsp olive oil

Knob of butter

Sprinkling of pumpkin seeds

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RECIPE

Remove the heads of the aubergines and cut them in half long ways. Spread some harissa paste inside and then put the halves back together. Wrap the two aubergines separately in tin foil and put in the oven at 180 degrees for an hour and a half.

Take washing out of machine, put in tumble dryer, put more washing in machine.

Chop the onion and garlic finely and fry for a few minutes in the olive oil until golden. Stir in the rice and let it toast for a minute or two.

Add a litre of boiling water and the stock cube. Let this all reduce on a low-medium heat for about fifteen minutes.

In the meantime, unwrap the aubergines and shred with two forks so that it looks a bit like pulled pork.

Add the aubergines to the almost ready risotto rice. Stir through and add more harissa paste, seasoning, and butter to taste. Add about a thumb of feta.

Serve up, top with the rest of the feta. Maybe more. More feta is usually a good thing. Then some pumpkin seeds for looking fancy.

VEGAN OPTION

Omit the butter and feta. Stir through an extra dash of olive oil or a knob of dairy free spread for richness. In place of the feta, you can stir through a spoonful of nutritional yeast, alternately you can add texture and protein with a handful of nuts – a mix of whole roast  almonds and salty pistachios will do the trick. 

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