If you think about it, life is the continual process of building things. We build relationships, friendships, careers and confidence. We build love. We build life. Brick by brick and day by day. Sometimes it all crumbles down, leaving us scarred and bruised, but with the promise and opportunity to start all over and build something even better -even higher – than before. Sometimes we just keep building higher and higher, blinded by a compulsive necessity to always want more, until we realize we’ve built something so gigantic it is practically impossible for others to look over and beyond this wall of pompousness, leaving us all alone and small.
Whether we build with our hands, our words, our acts or simply with the toolbox hidden on the top shelf of our garage: Building is life’s vicious cycle. It is both loved and feared, for our need of building things goes hand in hand with the fear of falling. Failure. It is vertigo beyond compare, higher than the Kilimanjaro and Mount Everest combined. Failure leaves us dizzy and numb but when we finally find the courage to take the leap, to jump… we’re able to fly!
Anyway, enough with this spiritual, semi- poetic mumbo jumbo! Time to act! Time to cook! And inspired by all that’s been said above, I decided to build. Build with aubergine! It’s not really life changing, but it sure was delicious!
This aubergine stack is filled with a powerful maftoul mix, giving the whole dish a perfumed aroma of North African spice. This stack is lovely as a starter, or if you want to eat it as a main course, serve with a lovely salad (or just eat multiple stacks 😉 )
Aubergine stack with maftoul filling
Ingredients (serves 1-2 main course or 2-3 starters)
• 1 large aubergine
• 2 tbsp honey
• 1 tsp harissa
• 1 clove of garlic
• 2 spring onions
• 1 tbsp chopped candied lemon peel
• 1 tbsp chopped dried cranberries
• 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp paprika
• ½ tsp ground coriander
• ½ tsp ground ginger
• ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
• 80gr maftoul
• 50gr cottage cheese or Greek yoghurt
1. Cut the aubergines in 0,5 cm slices. Mix together in a small bowl the honey, harissa and a pinch of salt and pepper. Brush the aubergine slices generously with this sweet and spicy paste on both sides.
2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and fry the slices for 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the aubergine slices to an oven-proof dish and bake for a further 5 minutes in a preheated oven at 180°C.
3. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the same pan you used to cook your aubergines in. Add the chopped garlic and sauté on low heat. Add the maftoul and all the spices and let them toast for a couple of minutes until the spices start to release their lovely scent.
4. Add the lemon peel and cranberries and add some boiling water to the maftoul mixture. ( approx. 1,6 dl of water)
5. Let it simmer until the maftoul has absorbed all the water and is cooked through. (If necessary, add some extra water if the maftoul isn’t cooked enough)
6. Season the maftoul with salt and stir the through the finely chopped spring onions and mint.
7. Build your stack!
8. Finish your brilliant tower with a good dollop of cottage cheese or Greek yoghurt to balance the spiciness of the dish.