Happy December! Can you believe we’ve reached the beginning of the holiday season? A period rich in family festivities that often revolve around the dining table. Naturally, I love this time of the year. This week, it’s time to open up a world of opportunities to rethink what we put on the menu for this year’s festivities.
While respecting traditions and being flexible in my approach, I believe in sticking our necks out for things that make us feel supported. Whatever this may be. Perhaps it’s a meat-free meal on the dinner table. Maybe it’s a full blown plant based supper for Christmas. Any day is a good day to start making changes. No matter how big or small.
I find it super awesome that my family is open to adding vegetarian and vegan alternatives to our holiday menu. So, this month I look towards rich, decorative dishes that qualify for such occasions to inspire your own folks. This really can be the most wonderful time of the year. No need to compromise, just keep an open mind. Learn from each other and fill your tummies with dishes that look good as hell!
- 2 large eggplants (more if smaller)
- 2 purple onions, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 bell pepper, cut into small pieces
- Handful of fresh cherry tomatoes
- 1 can of diced tomatoes^
- 200 g feta or vegan white cheese
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons of oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon of sugar (optional)
- Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
- Corn salad to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Prepare the filling’s base: chop the purple onion, garlic and paprika. Set aside.
- Slice the aubergines in half lengthways through the stalk. Using a spoon, hollow out the aubergines, leaving about a ½ cm-thick border around the skin to create a boat. Transfer the boats to a sheet tray and brush each with olive oil, inside and out. Bake for 20-25 minutes on 200°C. You’re aiming for a nice browning and tender texture. Meanwhile, roughly chop the scooped-out aubergine flesh.
- Start the filling as soon as the aubergines are in the oven. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, add the onion and garlic, stir until translucent. Add the chopped aubergine flesh, bake until soft, stirring occasionally. Spice it up! After adding the cinnamon, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper, add the pieces of bell pepper. Bake for 1-2 minutes. Then, enrich with the can of diced tomatoes. Bake until the aubergine boats are in the oven (~13 more minutes). Adjust the taste to your liking.^^
- Meanwhile, dice the feta and cherry tomatoes.
- Stuff the aubergine boats with filling, gently packing down with a spoon to ensure all filling is used up. It fits more than you’d imagine! Spread out the feta & cherry tomatoes on top of each boat. Pop back in the oven for 15 more minutes on 200°C.
- The finishing touch: garnish with freshly chopped parsley and corn salad spread out on each plate.
^ Feel free to use fresh fleshy tomatoes if you can get your hands on good produce, just beware of the proportions.
^^ Factor in the feta and cherry tomatoes that will come on top of the aubergine boats, AKA be careful with salt due to the saltiness of the feta. Aim for a nice taste combo in the finished product, not only in the filling.