This week is National Vegetarian Week and a time to focus on, and enjoy delicious meat free food. I think of it as a opportunity to focus on all the delicious things you can eat, rather than just thinking about not eating meat. It certainly is a more positive way to go about things.
I will freely admit that aubergines, or egg plants are often neglected in the Fuss Free kitchen – I probably buy one a month. It’s a shame as they are delicious and versatile, think of richly flavoured baba ganoush, a comforting vegetarian mossuka or a tasty caponata. Aubergines are far less bitter than they used to be and gone are the days of salting to bring out their bitter juices.
I coated my aubergines in a spicy, smoky sauce before dehydrating to make crunchy crisps, which can satisfy a craving for bacon. You can make this in a low oven – if the thermostat allows it – I’ve not had that much success in a gas oven.
I thinly sliced my aubergine using the OXO Good Grips Mandolin (RRP £12). It is certainly cheaper than the box style of mandolin. It is easy to use – the blade is sharp, there are three thickness settings plus a safety setting. It fits into A derawer so is perfect for frequent low volume usage. On the minus side it is tricky to apply even pressure when slicing larger pieces of food (you can see it did not always cut even slices) and it is very tempting to not use the food holder when you start to slice – although it is easier I do not recommend this as it would be very easy to give yourself a nasty cut. One the whole it is a great piece of kit.
I’ve had my Lakeland dehydrator for some time and am a huge fan. Simply line up your food, stack the trays, switch on and go. it sits on the work top and blows warm air over the food with a gentle hum of the fan. I like that it has easily washable trays, that can stack compactly, or more spaced. It is basic, there is only one heat setting, and no timer and because of the design you cannot make large sheets of fruit leathers in it. But at a penny short of £50 is is a fraction of the price of other dehydrators and a good way to start dehydrating. If you are that way inclined there are numerous craft prospects with slices of dehydrated oranges and lemons!
Recipe: Spiced Aubergine (or Eggplant) Crisps
- 1 tbs tamari
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 dsp maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp liquid smoke
- 1/2 tsp chilli paste – I used Gran Luchito
- 1 medium aubergine – very thinly sliced
- Simply whisk all the ingredients for the marinade together, put into a large bowl with the aubergine slices and gently toss together so the slices are coated.
- Arrange the slices on your dehydrator racks and dehydrate until done, turning once. This took a few hours but will depend on your machine and the thickness of the slices.
- Alternatively place the aubergine onto non stick baking trays dehydrate in a very low oven.
- Store in an airtight container.
OXO Good Grips tools and the Lakeland dehydrator were review samples. All opinions are our own.