Fresh peppery rocket, clean and crisp courgettes, the muffled mellow flavour of aubergines, sweet apricots, creamy avocado and the crunch of pine nuts all smothered in a tangy tahini dressing: this is my kind of salad. Layer upon layer of flavour and texture, neither losing its shape nor crunch but delicate enough not to take hours to munch on! In the warmer days we’ve been having this is just the kind of food I’ve been living on. The tahini dressing is a favourite of mine. Frankly, I drizzle it over nearly everything. It’s perfect with a hot smoked salmon and new potato salad; equally, simply steam a couple of courgettes (they’re in abundance right now) and toss them in this dressing, it’s heavenly. It works as a standalone salad for a light lunch or supper; it’s also rather lovely with these Sweet Potato Rolls and an Olive Tapenade (another favourite) or drizzled over a herb salad and served with these Falafel. And truly delicious when served with roast lamb as a wonderful weekend supper, the sweet and tangy sesame dressing and Middle Eastern feel to the salad goes particularly well with that rich meat. However you serve it, do try and eat it immediately after making as it is at its best then.
I managed to get hold of some gorgeous fingerling aubergines (the small, Indian ones) which look so beautiful when sliced on the round. You can use a larger aubergine, cut into cubes, the flavours and textures will be very much the same.
AUBERGINE AND COURGETTE SALAD WITH APRICOT AND TAHINI DRESSING
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as an accompaniment
4 small courgettes
4 fingerling aubergines or 1 large
75g rocket leaves
6 dried apricots, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
A handful of pine nuts
For the tahini dressing
The juice of ½ a lemon
1 tbsp tahini
½ tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp olive oil
½ clove of garlic, crushed
Preheat the oven to 180c. Slice the aubergines and courgettes into 1cm thick rounds (if using a large aubergine cut into 2cm cubes). Place in a roasting tin and pour over the olive oil, season and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until cooked and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down.
Place the pine nuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven until golden – 3-5 minutes, but do keep your eye on them to make sure they don’t catch.
Make up the dressing by placing the tahini and maple syrup in a small bowl and mixing together. Stir in the crushed garlic and then add the olive oil, bit by bit stirring as you go until smooth and combined. Add the lemon juice and mix together, season to taste.
Spread the rocket leaves over a platter or large serving bowl. Slice the avocado in half, remove the stone and slice the flesh lengthways into thin wedges while still contained in the skin. Use a spoon to scoop out the slices and fan out over the rocket.
Scatter the roasted aubergines and courgettes, dot over the apricots and then drizzle the dressing evenly over the salad. Finally, scatter over the pine nuts and serve.