I’ve given two fillings here, but mix, match and add as you like. Olives, anchovies and capers are all candidates. Choose aubergines that are heavy for their size and are shiny and smooth, rather than dull and wrinkly, and make sure you have a very sharp knife for slicing. The filling quantities are per aubergine, which will give you six rolls; allow two or three per person as a starter, three or four as a main course. They go well with both the red peppers and the stuffed vine leaves above. They're best made a day in advance – store in the fridge overnight.
Serves 3-6 (see above)
2 large aubergines
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pimentón doux/sweet smoked paprika (optional)
1 small red pepper, seeds and pith removed
Fresh pesto, green or red (about 6 tbsp)
120g soft, slightly runny cheese, such as goat’s, pont l’éveque, époisses or dolcelatte
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, torn
70g feta, diced or crumbled
100g Philadelphia-type soft cheese
12 pieces of ready-to-eat semi-dried tomato, or sundried tomatoes, drained
2 tbsp mint or coriander, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Tapenade (about 6 tsp)
Preheat the grill.
Cut the stalks off the aubergines. Stand them on end, cut a thin slice off each side and discard it, then cut each aubergine into 6 long slices. If doing filling one, cut the pepper lengthways into nine strips and then halve them.
Lay as many slices as will fit without overlapping, in a well-oiled grill pan. Brush the exposed side with oil and season with pepper. Six of the slices will also need salt and, if you are using it, a light dusting of pimentón (it gives the rolls a lovely orange glow). Grill the aubergine for 3-4 minutes each side until cooked through. Remove from the tin and leave to cool completely.
Oil the pan again and repeat with the remaining aubergine slices. Put the red pepper (filling 1) in the pan too, if using, and brush with oil. Grill as before, but give the peppers about two minutes longer.
With the pimentón side underneath (if relevant), spread the other aubergine slices with pesto. Divide the pepper, goat’s cheese or dolcelatte and basil between them, putting the filling at the narrow end. Roll them up and sit the rolls with the ends underneath.
For filling 2, crumble the feta into the cream cheese and mix in the tomatoes, herbs and black pepper into the cream cheese. Spread the non-peppered side of the six unsalted aubergine slices thinly with tapenade, put a spoonful of the feta filling at the narrow end of each slice and roll up as before.
These are best made a day in advance, but take them out of the fridge 30-60 minutes before serving. Serve them with any juices that have seeped out and, for the sake of presentation, a quick grind of black pepper.
Original photograph by Lisa Linder