It's already September - ovens can be heated up, aubergines are in their prime and so are tomatoes. They make a brilliant pair, be it in a wine-spiked ratatouille, a spiced curry, or a fragrant, sweet dish of roasted vegetables. Herbs, picked at random from a patch in the backyard, and a drizzle of olive oil, to bring the flavors together. A few slices of preserved lemon, just because I was so eager to use them. A few tablespoons of cooked barley, to make it through the rest of the day. A meal for the last days of summer.
Roasted Tomatoes and Aubergine with Barley
2 small aubergines, halved
1/2 cup mixed herbs (thyme, mint, parsley)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp chopped preserved lemon, or zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup cooked pearl barley
Preheat the oven to 200*C.
Cut through the flesh of aubergine, careful not to pierce the skin, in a grid of 1cm (clue: photos).
Blitz the herbs and olive oil with salt and pepper until almost pesto-like, then spread over the aubergine halves, pushing into the flesh.
Place on a baking tray and pop into the oven for 30-40 minutes.
On a flat baking tray, spread the halved tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and the cumin, then mix everything with your hands, and make sure to distribute the tomatoes in a single layer. Add to the oven for 20 minutes, until blistered.
Once the tomatoes are done (the aubergine should need another 10 minutes, with the flesh split entirely where it was cut, and the borders golden and crisped up), add them to a shallow dish along with the barley and lemon, then mash with a fork, removing skins that are very dark.
Take the aubergines out of the oven and transfer them to plates, serving 1 half if there is more on the table, or 2 halves if you're not going to eat anything else. Top with the tomatoes + barley, dividing evenly. Serve immediately, maybe with an extra drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of parsley.