Creamy No-Cream Roast Aubergine, Chestnut, Smoked Paprika & Grana Padano Dip with Crudites
Alex Mackay, cook, teacher, writer and food lover serves up the perfect non-stop nibbles for your festive celebrations to sparkle.
This cheesy lovechild of hummus and baba ghanoush turned out a little nutty! The chestnut puree offers a luxurious texture but you can replace it with the same quantity of pureed chickpeas and a little of their water. This dip is not just for New Year's but for all year, so use the season to your advantage. I choose a crisp mix of pale and purple colours and tastes that range from bitter to sweet...
Serves 4 as a starter; Prep Time: 20 mins; Cooking Time: 25 mins; Difficulty: Simple
1. Imagine the aubergine has 3 sides as typically it will burn about a third at a time. On your largest gas ring, burn the aubergine for 2-3 minutes on each side. The skin needs to be completely charred and the flesh soft within, burn it for a little longer if you need to. If you don't have a gas ring, do this part under a hot grill.
2. Transfer the aubergine to a bowl. Cover the bowl with clingfilm to help steam off the skin. After about ten minutes peel off and discard the charred skin. I prefer not to rinse the aubergine, even if a few black bits remain, because the water washes out the smoked flavour.
3. While aubergine burns and steams, put the Grana Padano chunks into the bowl of your food processor. Blend them to a fine powder. Add the tomato puree, extra virgin olive oil, and chestnut puree. Blend for 90 seconds or until the mixture is very smooth, the longer you puree the dip for, the smoother it will be. If you need to, add water to get it to a dipping texture. Season to taste with salt and smoked paprika. Transfer the dip to your serving bowl.
4. I like to make waves on the top with the back of a spoon, swirl in some more extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle smoked paprika over the top. Serve with crisp and colourful vegetables.
5. It's handy when you serve raw vegetables to have a spray bottle with water to keep them looking moist and fresh. If you don't have a spray bottle, just flick a little water over the vegetables with your fingers. It makes a huge difference.