This recipe is the third in a series of four that was written in partnership with Wyevale Garden Centres who sponsored this post. (Read more about sponsored content on Eat Like a Girl). See my first post on How to Plant an Edible Garden and my second post on Courgette Flowers and a Recipe for Courgette Flower Egg Menemen.
How does my garden grow? Very well. Too well, sometimes. Some plants just don’t know when to reign it in. YES: I am looking at you sprawling tomatoes, and why all so green?! I see one that looks like it might blush soon.
My garden has been a highlight of my summer, and now I can’t help but feel a little sad that so many of my lovely plants are nearing their end. All that lives must die, after all. A little grim but a sad fact and there is always next year. Which I am already excited about.
I feel the seasons more now. I have learned that it doesn’t matter when you plant your seed, a plant has a clock that it must follow. Start earlier next year. Have a plan. When I look at my small chaotic garden now I yearn for more sun and more order. Lessons learned.
This year I planted everything in containers. I tried grow bags for tomatoes (they worked very well). Containers are perfect for small urban and patio gardens but some plants need to be rooted deeper. My tall lanky borage wobbles in the slightest breeze. It needs to reach deeper than the kitchen sink that I have planted in would allow. Next year I will look at testing my soil and planting some plants in the soil next year also.
My beans are going well. Purple beans standing proud and strong amid a flourish of green leaves, and borlottis in plump green pods starting to turn pink now. I am impatient for them. My strawberries, which I had planted in a beautiful red enamel pot, with no drainage (I know, now). I thought that I had killed them, but I planted them again and they have come back and presented me with sprigs of bright fruit. What a joy! Plants want to grow, they will work with you.
What else? Cucumbers! Peppers! Courgettes, pumpkins, herbs, lots of edible flowers. I bought lots of random seeds and plants to try, to see what might take and what I might grow again. The biggest surprise? My aubergine plant. I had no idea that aubergines could grow on a patio in a terracotta pot but they have.
The aubergine plant that I have in my garden is an F1 hybrid, Ophelia (which is available at Wyevale Garden Centres). It sounds like a car, but an F1 hybrid is nothing to be afraid of. It is a plant that has been produced using specialised (and old fashioned) breeding techniques, cross breeding specific plants until you get the most desirable plant (in terms of levels of fruit production, disease resistance etc.). These take a while to produce and so the seeds are a little more expensive. They are worth it, I think my little aubergine plant standing at 4 feet tall, will produce many aubergines and it has been so straightforward requiring only repotting in a bigger pot, regular water and a little food (I used tomato feed with seaweed, again from Wyevale Garden Centres).
At first my aubergine plant presented me with joyful lilac flowers. Simple and beautiful, I contemplated sacrificing some aubergines to have some of those flowers on my plate. Alas they are flavourless, which I am grateful for now as my aubergine plant has lots of little aubergines on it, growing enthusiastically. The lilac flower shrivels and pops out a small aubergine like an acorn. It grows well and quickly. Perhaps a few weeks for each to mature.
I left for 3 days and came back to find my aubergine plant had topped over under the weight of the fruit. Each fruit when mature is about half the size of standard supermarket aubergines. Isn’t that the joy of growing your own? You can grow something different and something that maybe you can’t buy. Something fresher, something freshly picked and full of goodness.
There are many things that you can do with your garden aubergines. In this hot weather I could only think of the BBQ. I turned to one of my favourite Japanese recipes, nasu dengaku. Aubergines cooked over the grill and finished with a miso glaze and sesame seeds. Gorgeous, easy, quick. Perfect for this hot bank holiday weekend.
- 4 small or 2 large aubergines, cut in half with the top scored in a diamond pattern with a sharp knife
- flavourless oil like groundnut or rapeseed to brush on the cut aubergine / eggplant surface
- 100ml soy sauce
- 100ml sake
- 100 ml mirin
- 4 tbsp hatcho miso (or substitute miso of your choice, I also like to use sweet white miso)
- 3 tbsp honey
- 4 tbsp sesame seeds
- some flat leaf parsley to garnish
- sea salt
Get your BBQ ready, you want it hot but not flaming. You can also do these under the grill / broiler.
Brush the cut side of the aubergines with some oil and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Place them cut side down on the hot BBQ.
While they are cooking, prepare the glaze. I did this on my BBQ too but if you don't have enough room, you can do this on the hob. Combing the soy, sake, mirin, miso and honey, and bring to the boil. Reduce until it is approximately half the volume, and is thick. Stir it as you do to ensure the miso is well combined. A whisk works well here.
When the aubergines are golden and tender, turn them over. Glaze the cut surface with the miso and soy mixture and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Cook for a further 5 minutes or so. If doing this under the grill, grill until bubbling and the sesame seeds are golden.
Serve with a sprinkling of parsley.