Baked Aubergine with Lemon-Infused Couscous
A sophisticated dish with contrasting flavours, where meaty aubergine meets fluffy couscous.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4 and lightly oil a baking tray.
Score the aubergine flesh diagonally both ways, creating a diamond pattern. Place on the baking tray. Spread a teaspoon of harissa over each half, covering all the crevices. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over each, season generously and bake for around 40 minutes until the flesh is completely soft, turning over halfway through to ensure the skin doesn’t crisp or dry out.
Place the couscous in a bowl with the lemon zest strips. Add 150 ml freshly boiled water, cover and set aside until all the liquid has been absorbed – about 10 minutes. Discard the lemon zest and fluff the couscous with a fork.
Scoop the flesh from the centre of each aubergine half, leaving enough around the sides to keep its shape. Roughly chop the flesh and place in a bowl. Stir through the couscous along with the lemon juice, smoked paprika and remaining olive oil. Season, then add the toasted pine nuts and parsley. Divide the mixture evenly between the aubergine skins. Return to the baking tray and bake for a further 15–20 minutes.
To make the dressing, place the tahini in a bowl with the lemon juice, oil, maple syrup or agave nectar, salt and 2 tablespoons water. Whisk until smooth, adding a little more water if necessary – or use a hand blender.
Remove the stuffed aubergines from the oven and serve with a dollop of tahini dressing and a sprinkling of sesame seeds and parsley.
“Love couscous an inordinate amount. Often mistaken for a grain, it’s actually more akin to pasta as it is made from tiny granules of durum wheat. Whilst you could use a protein-packed option like quinoa (and feel free to do so), there’s something so tempting about a mouthful of lemon-infused couscous.”
Extract taken from Keep It Vegan by Áine Carlin, photographed by Ali Allen, £14.99, Kyle Books.