Ingredients

2 medium eggplants, sliced into thick rounds then cut into bite-sized chunks
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
5 small lemons
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons extra
16 fresh bay leaves
FOR THE HERB PILAF
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
finely grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
1½ cups long grain rice, rinsed well then drained
2¼ cups water
1 cup loosely packed mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup loosely packed flat-leafed parsley, roughly chopped
FOR THE TZATZIKI
1 small telegraph cucumber, grated
1 cup plain Greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
small handful mint leaves, finely chopped
Tender garlicky eggplant cooked alongside lemon and bay leaf makes for a lovely plant-based alternative to the more usual fish or chicken. I like to colour them in a pan before finishing off in the oven to ensure the eggplant is meltingly soft. Leave the bay leaves out if you can’t source fresh ones as dried won’t be the same here. If you’re a fried-cheese fan, you could add cubes of haloumi along with the eggplant.

Instructions

1.Preheat the oven to 200°C. Soak 8 long wooden skewers in cold water for 30 minutes.
2.In a large non-reactive bowl, combine the eggplant slices with the salt, mix well and set aside for 30 minutes.
3.Drain, rinse well then pat dry with a clean tea towel.
4.Meanwhile to prepare the herb pilaf, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium-high heat.
5.Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often until soft.
6.Add the garlic, lemon zest and rice, stir well to coat the rice, then cook for 30 seconds before adding the water.
7.Allow to come to the boil, then turn to the lowest temperature, cover with a lid and cook for 12-15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.
8.Remove from heat, set aside with the lid on for 5 minutes then stir through the lemon juice. Cover to keep warm.
9.Returning to the eggplant, take one of the lemons and finely grate the zest and squeeze the juice.
10.In a bowl, combine the dried oregano, garlic, lemon zest and ¼ cup olive oil, then add the eggplant and mix well to coat.
11.Slice the remaining 4 lemons lengthwise then into thick slices.
12.Thread the eggplant pieces onto the skewers, alternating with lemon slices and bay leaves (two lemon slices and two bay leaves per skewer).
13.If you have any leftover eggplant pieces, these can be cooked in a pan over a low-medium heat until tender and golden and served alongside.
14.Reserve leftover marinade in the bowl, add the lemon juice and the extra 2 tablespoons of olive oil and whisk to combine.
15.Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
16.TO MAKE THE TZATZIKI, take small handfuls of grated cucumber and squeeze to remove as much moisture as you can (do this over a bowl as the cucumber juice is lovely to drink).
17.Combine the cucumber with the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, then season with a little salt.
18.Heat a large heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat and cook the eggplant souvlaki on both sides until well coloured before transferring to an oven tray. Alternatively, you could do these on the barbecue.
19.When all the souvlaki have been browned in the pan, transfer to the oven to cook for 10-15 minutes or until the eggplant is meltingly tender.
20.Drizzle leftover marinade dressing over the souvlaki, mix the herbs through the pilaf.
21.Serve the souvlaki with herb pilaf and a generous dollop of tzatziki.

Recipes, food styling & dish photography Emma Galloway

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