Roast Aubergine and Red Pepper Salad

It was a Marigolds and hoover day yesterday and late in the morning my thoughts turned to lunch. I’d just heard Anna Jones (whose inspiring book The Modern Cook’s Year is on my desk) talking on Woman’s Hour about lockdown lunches and the difficulty they presented, so when a quick riffle in the fridge veg drawer revealed aubergine and red pepper, I turned them into lunch. Two aubergines were halved lengthways, cut with a lattice to speed up cooking and roasted with whole Romano (long, thin) peppers for about 30 minutes at 200C until the lattice sagged and the pepper skin was puffy and blackened. I laid peeled, seeded pepper over the aubergine, covered it with slices of halloumi and popped it under the grill. With a squeeze of lime and tumble of capers it made a lovely lunch. My picture is of a slightly more sophisticated version, made by roasting slices of aubergine then making a pile with peppers roasted at the same time, adding a few diced cornichons for sharpness and texture with scraps of leftover tuna and a parsley garnish. Both versions had a splash of vinaigrette.

Serves 2

Prep: 20 min

Cook: 40 min

2 medium aubergine

olive oil

2 Romano (pointed) red peppers

100g halloumi or feta cheese

1 dsp lemon juice

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp capers

     Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Halve the aubergines lengthways, cutting through the stalk. Use a small, sharp knife to etch a 1cm wide and ½ cm deep lattice over the halves. Arrange on a shallow roasting tin and smear the cut surfaces with olive oil. Arrange the peppers around the edge. Place the tin in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, turn the peppers and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the skin is puffy. Leave the aubergine to finish softening but transfer the peppers to a plate and cover with a stretch of clingfilm – this will make the skin easier to peel. Leave while you finalize the dish. Thinly slice the halloumi or feta. Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together. By now the aubergine will be soft. Remove from the oven and heat the grill. Swipe away the pepper skin and seeds and lay lengths over the aub to cover. Top with slices of cheese. Flash under the grill, leaving until the cheese is soft, puffy and patched with gold. Transfer to plates, scatter over the capers and spoon over the vinaigrette. Eat with crusty bread and butter.