Grilled Aubergine, Mozzarella and Parsley Pesto Salad

In Marrakech, we were staying just off the main square, Place Jamaa el-Fna. At night, the whole square comes alive with hundreds of food vendors, shouting over each other, competing for customers, snake charmers and musicians. It seems that the whole city, locals and tourists alike, assemble in the square.

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The whole thing is very chaotic, it has to be said. It is impossible to walk past a food stall without the proprietor yelling at you to stop and look at his menu- and once you’ve been handed the menu, there is no way they will let you walk away. Not the sort of place you can have a leisurely mooch to decide on dinner!

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We decided to venture into the square for dinner on our second night there. Amidst the chaos, there is some seriously delicious food to be had. Because of this, we ate at the same stall again the next night!

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Everything is cooked on an open grill right in the square. It comes pretty much as soon as you order: the fastest of fast food!

When you sit down, you are given a little roll of light bread and a selection of spicy sauces including harissa. We ordered olives, vegetable tagines, couscous as well as a whole selection of grilled vegetables. Our absolute favourite was the grilled aubergine. It was practically chargrilled, cooked over the open fire. And it was delicious!

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This is my take on the aubergine. Unfortunately, it was not cooked on an open flame (my tiny flat would not accommodate that!) but it is chargrilled. And then served with parsley pesto and mozzarella- a perfect combination! This is also a really quick, really easy way to bring a little Moroccan flavour into your summer suppers!

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Grilled Aubergine with Parsley Pesto and Mozzarella

2 large aubergines

1 ball of fresh mozzarella

for the pesto:

a large handful of parsley

2 cloves of garlic

about 2 tablespoons of olive oil

handful of almonds

pinch of salt and pepper

Thinly slice the aubergines into strips. Heat up a small splash of olive oil in a griddle pan and place over a medium heat. Grill each aubergine slice for a few minutes on each side, or until it is dark and chargrilled and the inside is soft.

Once all the aubergines are cooked, place them on a plate and allow to cool completely.

In the meantime, make the pesto. Place all the ingredients in a food processor or a pestle and mortar and whizz or bash until they are combined and form a runny paste. Taste it occasionally and see if it needs more salt or pepper or garlic. When you are happy with the taste and the consistency, you are ready to assemble.

Spread the aubergine out on a serving plate (this one came from Marrakech- my new favourite!) Roughly rip the mozzarella ball into strips and dot around the aubergine. Then, drizzle the pesto on top.

Serve cool as a delicious side, or just eat the whole plate yourself and call it dinner!

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xxR

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