Spud Sunday: A Bake Is Born

It started simply thus: I had cauliflower in my fridge and potatoes on my mind.

My ponderings on what to make using said combination lead me first in the direction of this yellow, coconut-milky curry which, in turn, drew me to an old Thai-style favourite. The ever-present desire – nay, duty – to mix things up, potato-wise, took those thoughts and translated them into a bake, layered with potatoes and cauliflower and a coconut-milky sauce. And it was good, maybe very good, even. But my tastebuds told me that, while the cauliflower was fine, some aubergine would be even better. I, naturally, took my tastebuds’ advice.

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Potato and Aubergine Bake

Potato Aubergine Bake

So here it is then, the net result of my potatoey thought processes – not a cauliflower to be seen but, nonetheless, with cauliflower to thank for the initial inspiration.

You can think of this dish as potatoes and aubergines, baked in a faintly Thai-style coconut milk sauce, or just think of it as dinner. It’s also one of those recipes that, by happenstance more than design, ticks lots of ‘free from’ boxes, being dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan. It’s also a good and warming thing to eat.

The most time consuming thing about making this is frying the aubergine slices, but this is the part that, above all, is worth it – aubergine (or eggplant, if you will) is a vegetable that is distinctly unpleasant and rubbery when under-cooked but silkily sublime when done right.

The Summary:

  • Makes 4-6 servings & takes approx. 1 hour 15 min to prep + 1 hour to bake

You’ll need:

  • 500-600g aubergine (abt. 2 medium-sized)
  • salt
  • 700g potatoes, preferably a waxy variety
  • 3-4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2-3cm piece fresh root ginger (abt. 2 tblsp when finely chopped)
  • vegetable oil for greasing and frying
  • 1 x 400g tin coconut milk
  • 1 x 400g tin tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp lemon juice, or to taste (or use lime juice)
  • pinch sugar (optional, to taste)
  • fistful of fresh coriander, leaves and stems finely chopped (abt. 6 tblsp)
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes, or to taste (optional)

You’ll also need:

  • An ovenproof dish (mine was 30cm x 24cm and about 5cm deep), a large frying pan for frying the aubergine slices (and a second pan, if you have it), as well as a pot for making the sauce.

The Steps:

  • Slice the aubergine into approx. 0.5cm discs, scatter with salt and leave for about 30 minutes to draw out some of their liquid.
  • While the aubergine is salting, scrub the potatoes and, leaving the skins on, slice into pieces around 2-3mm thick. Cover with water until ready to use. You can also get on with chopping the spring onions, garlic and ginger.
  • Place your frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, add vegetable oil to coat. Rinse off the aubergine slices, pat dry and fry in batches until starting to soften and brown a little, about 5 minutes on either side, then leave to drain on kitchen paper. If you have a second frying pan, now is a good time to make use of it.
  • Preheat your oven to 180C
  • Place a medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat. When hot, add the spring onions. Stir and fry for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic and ginger and fry for about a minute more. Add the coconut milk, chopped, tinned tomatoes, lemon juice about 1 tsp fine salt. Stir and bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and adjust seasoning – depending on the sweetness or otherwise of the tomatoes, you may want to add a small pinch of sugar.
  • To assemble, grease the base of your gratin dish lightly, add a layer of potato slices, followed by a layer of aubergine. Spoon over about half of the coconut/tomato sauce and sprinkle with half of the coriander and chilli flakes (if using). Repeat the potato/aubergine/sauce/coriander sequence and finish with a layer of potatoes. Brush the potatoes lightly with vegetable oil and place in the oven for about an hour. Serve hot, perhaps with some salad or stir-fried greens.

The Variations:

  • In summer and with good tomatoes available, I’d use fresh tomatoes instead of tinned. You could also add some tinned straw mushrooms to this.
R☆51
Comments
  • Sometimes, when you think about potatoes a lot, things like this potato & aubergine bake get made http://t.co/x7pXPqIS

  • Spud Sunday: A Bake Is Born http://t.co/UutKyQoH

  • Hi, sounds really tasty! I personally like to include vegetables in all my meals, so if you´re interested I recommend the Mediterranean food, visit us to know more about it!

    Regards,

    Photorecipe

  • Cheers for that Photorecipe – I’m a fan of having vegetables at every turn and of Mediterranean (as well as many other) foods – it’s all good :)

  • I am going to try it, Aoife. Have to wait till my grafted aubergines are ripe. I very rarely salt these and wonder if removal of water helps the dish. Could the dreamy creamyness be even better with no salting? I am always short of time too. David

  • To be honest David, I usually salt aubergines out of habit – it’s worth a try without and, if you like the results, then all the better (and quicker!)

  • Some folks say the main reason to salt is to extract bitterness but modern fast grown ones are never bitter. what I don’t know is, what effect has removal of water to end result. Someone must have made comparisons – not keen to reinvent wheels!

  • Too right David. The Internet will surely know, or at least provide some pointers to comparisons. I did, for example, find an assortment of theories over here which make for interesting (if not absolutely conclusive) reading – best taken with a pinch of salt, methinks :)

  • Honestly this tasted good but looked really bad. It was too watery with coconut milk, I used 3 cups and a half of coconut milk (which is approx what the recipe requires). Any tips?

  • Hi Reem – sorry you found that it looked bad (though I can always forgive poor looks if the taste is good).

    To be honest, 3.5 cups of coconut milk sounds like an awful lot compared to the amount specified in the recipe, which was one 400g tin (the standard tin size we tend to get over here in Ireland). Off the top of my head, I would have guessed that a single tin (400g or, equivalently, 400ml) would correspond to around 2 cups worth of liquid or a little less (apologies that I don’t have US cup conversions in my recipes, I’m more at home with weighing things out). One of my American cookbooks suggests a conversion of 8oz (or 225ml) for a cup of milk, which puts a single tin at 1.75 cups, exactly half of the amount you used, so I would suggest using that amount next time around. Hope that helps and thanks for taking the time to try the recipe and to comment.

  • Spud Sunday: A Bake Is Born http://t.co/MOvClktTSH fingers crossed its good!

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