I had yet another giant lemon that needed using up and turned to the internet in search of some inspiring recipe. A sale on a glut of aubergines and a recipe for them with lemon by Yotam Ottolenghi seemed just the ticket. However, I wasn’t keen on actually turning on my oven in the hot weather (the heat leaks and heats our entire living room) and adapted the recipe to use aubergines cooked over our gas stove.

Aubergines with Fried Onions and Chopped Lemon

What a great dish it turned out to be! I loved the acidity of the lemon in combination with the sharp feta, silky aubergines and sweet onions. It would make a great side dish or…y’know, just spoon it all into your mouth and call it dinner.

Aubergines with Fried Onions and Chopped Lemon

Aubergines with Fried Onions and Chopped Lemon
adapted from an Ottolenghi recipe.
serves 2-4.

2 large or 5-6 small aubergines
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small lemon or 1/2 a giant lemon
feta cheese

Barbecue or grill the aubergines over a gas flame until soft and black all over. Let cool and then peel them and chop the flesh into large chunks. Set aside.

Heat a frying pan or saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the thinly sliced onions and let cook until caramelised (this will take a while). Add the garlic and cumin and cook and stir through. Stir through the aubergine chunks until mixed well and warmed through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Plate.

Peel and seed the lemon and chop its flesh up and scatter on top of the aubergine mixture. Likewise, crumble however much feta cheese you’d like and scatter that on top too.

Set aside and serve at room temperature.

I had picked up a packet of the most delicious beef sausages from the Hardiesmill stand at the Real Food Festival last weekend (I’ve been buying from their stand each year – I also love their pastrami) and wanted to have them as the highlight of our dinner. Frying them and serving them as a main course as is was just too simple – I wanted them in buns…with caramelised onions, yeah! And how about some balsamic vinegar mixed in with the onions too?

Beef Sausages in Buns with Balsamic Caramelised Onions

They came out a treat and we wolfed them down in front of the telly. I could almost pretend that I had my own barbecue. Right. Anyway, the beef sausages themselves were fantastically flavourful and were lovely paired with  the sweet and sour onions. It looks like one can order them, as well as all their beef and cured beef products, from the Hardiesmill online shop.

Homemade Hot Dog Buns

The buns I made using this recipe; I halved it and made slightly smaller buns than the usual hot dog sized ones and ended up with enough buns for two dinners and a lunch. I accidentally overbaked them due to their diminutive size but they still came out with a soft crumb and a pleasantly crustier than expected outside.

Inside a Bun

Balsamic Caramelised Onions

Peel, halve and slice 4 large onions. Heat about 2 tbsps olive oil in a large pan/pot and dump in all the sliced onions. Turn the heat to medium-low and stir once in a while. To hasten their softening, slap a lid on for some of the time; however, you will want to slowly cook uncovered for most of the time. Don’t forget to stir once in a while! If the mixture starts sticking, add some water and scrape it up. If the mixture starts browning quickly, turn the heat lower. Patience, patience. Stir some more. Has the mass shrunk a lot? Good, you’re almost there. Season with salt and about a teaspoon of sugar. Stir and stir. When they’re brown and soft and caramelised (about 40-45 minutes), take them off the heat and stir through about 3 tsps of a good balsamic vinegar.

Now use those onions! Slice a hot dog bun lengthwise but not all the way through. Smear both cut sides with some Dijon mustard. Add a couple of tablespoons of caramelised onions and nestle the cooked beef sausage on top of them. Serve.