I'm not a particularly great fan of Halloumi, despite both of us being Cypriot, well partly.
It's quite a domineering flavour for using with other ingredients, and you really have to be in the right mood to eat it on its own,
and I'd had this wedge of Halloumi in the fridge for quite long enough thank you.
So I thought I'd try baking it rather than the usual grilling or frying,
and threw this dish together.
It may resemble certain Friday-night puddles of messy chunks but it's pleasantly tasty
and is almost completely unlike the Turkish Imam Bayildi
Hence the name - the Imam threw up
Frying (or grilling) aubergine is a good way to crisp up the skin and give the flesh a bit of smoky flavour.
Unfortunately when you fry aubergine it soaks up oil like a sponge, like an infinite sponge ever thirsty for oil.
Then when you bake it afterwards it releases all the oil back out again and turns your dish into a greasy puddle.
Which is fine if that's the effect you're going for, but a bit overwhelming otherwise.
You can persuade the aubergine to soak up less oil by breaking down the spongy cells before frying it
- either by salting, which draws the moisture out of the cells, collapsing them,
- or by pre-cooking the aubergine.
Baking or grilling before frying is usual, but then why not just bake it all the way until to completely cooked?
Also I find that grilling aubergine slices turns the exposed flesh a bit woody.
So I thought I'd try a suggestion of Harold McGee in his Encyclopaedic
on Food & Cooking
and microwave them.
It worked really well!
I happened to have some boiled peanuts from an ill-fated attempt at pasta with peanuts and pesto that I made earlier.
I keep trying to combine peanuts and pesto - 'cos I once found the flavours worked really well together in a salad,
and I wanted the peanuts quite soft for this dish.
It didn't really work - mainly due to the peanuts just sliding through the pasta,
but I did
end up with a lot of handy softened peanuts.
They contribute a little to the texture of the dish, but you might just not bother.
I don't think un-softened peanuts would work.
This was really good served with Joyce's Beetroot and Horseradish Salad
though I did use wasabi instead of the horseradish.
Like many aubergine dishes, it's also surprisingly nice served cold.
First set the peanuts to simmering in a pan of water treated to a stock cube or a teaspoon of marmite (if you can be bothered).
Boil them until they soften - between 30 minutes and an hour.
Get out an oven dish and preheat the oven to Gas 4/175°C/350°F.
Prick the aubergines a few times all around with a fork (so they don't explode!)
and microwave them until they just start to soften and collapse a little.
Cut them into large (1½") chunks when they're cool enough to handle.
Halve the cauliflower, cut away the stalk and separate the florets, cutting up any really big ones.
Halve the tomatoes.
Cut the Halloumi into large chunks.
Get a wok or a large frying pan really hot, drizzle in some olive oil and quickly fry the cauliflower florets
to colour then spread them over the bottom of the dish.
Quickly fry the aubergine (in batches if necessary), making sure to char the skin as much as possible and darken the flesh.
Add to the dish.
Scatter over the cheese, tomatoes and drained peanuts.
Try not to leave too much cauliflower exposed which can turn a bit leathery.
Season generously with salt and bake until succulent and golden and the tomatoes have collapsed - 1-2 hours.