Aubergine stew with almond & parsley pesto

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This is a I’m-trying-to-hang-onto-summer dish. A sort of caponata-inspired aubergine stew, topped with fresh parsley pesto. So what’s in the stew? Well, as with caponata, the vinegar is pretty important here. You want a tart, sour tang. There’s also salty olives and anchovies (you could use capers instead, which is the traditional choice – I just didn’t have any!), plus a fruit sweet hit of dates. The dates and anchovies melt into the sauce, an act as flavourings and seasonings – they make it so yummy! Otherwise, it’s a straightforward recipe that I really enjoy making a big batch of as it’s a good lunchbox filler and improves with age. The recipe below makes enough for 5-6 portions. Oh and a note on the pesto – my measurements are very loose because I just freestyled this one!

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You will need:

12 medium tomatoes
4 medium-large aubergines, roughly chopped
2 red onions, sliced
1 tbspn dried oregano
1 tbspn tomato paste
6 tbspns red wine vinegar
1 standard tin of anchovy fillets jn olive oil
12-15 dates, chopped
300g pimento-stuffed, or plain, green olives
Large handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
Handful (around 1 .5-2 tbspns )of flaked almonds, toasted
Handful (around 1.5-2 tbspns) of grated Parmesan
Salt, pepper
Olive oil

Method:

1 – Grab a frying pan and a large saucepan; heat some oil in the frying pan and add the onions
2 – Cook the onions until lightly caramelised and pop into the saucepan
3 – Now fry your Aubergine chunks, in batches, in the frying pan, adding seasoning as you go and oil as needed; transfer the browned Aubergine pieces into the saucepan along with the onions
4 – Meanwhile, place your tomatoes in a bowl of boiling water and leave for ten minutes before draining, peeling the skins off and roughly chopping
5 – Once all the aubergine is cooked, turn on the heat under your big saucepan, and stir the oregano, anchovy fillets, dates and tomato paste into the mix, followed by the vinegar
6 – Cook for a few minutes before tipping in the tomatoes and olives; simmer for 15 minutes or so and add more vinegar and/or seasoning to taste after this time
7 – Whilst the Aubergine stew is simmering, make your pesto by blitzing/grinding the parsley and almonds with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a little seasoning; stir in the Parmesan
8 – Serve the aubergines warm or at room temperature with a spoonful of pesto over the top, and extra parsley and almonds if you like

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