Time: 3/4 hour standing at the stove, plus several hours steeping time.
Servings: 2 to 4
This recipe was inspired by a dish that used to be served at La Vela, an Italian restaurant overlooking the marina in Lutry, a small wine-growing village on the northern shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, just outside Lausanne. It reminds me of balmy summer evenings watching the sun set over the Alps with a group of friends, getting pissed on Montepulciano, telling rude jokes very loudly and annoying all the people at neighbouring tables.
- 1 medium-sized aubergine
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 garlic cloves
- more olive oil
- Cut the stalk off the aubergine and cut it in half across the middle. Cut each half into slices lengthways, about ¼ inch (½ cm) thick.
- Sprinkle the slices generously with salt and leave in a colander to sweat for ½ hour or so. Rinse well and dry with a tea towel.
- Peel the garlic and squash the cloves slightly with the flat of a knife. Put them in a small pan with 1/3 cup olive oil and cook on medium heat with the bay leaf until the garlic is browned all over. Remove the garlic and leaf and turn off the heat.
- Preheat a ridged cast-iron stove-top griddle pan until it’s pretty hot. This should take 5 to 10 minutes.
- Brush the aubergine slices on both sides with olive oil (not the garlic-infused stuff) and grill them in batches on both sides until they’ve collapsed a bit and are decorated with black stripes. When they’re done, lay them in a glass dish, sprinkle with a bit of salt and drizzle some of the garlicky oil over them. Continue grilling and layering until all the aubergine is done, and pour the rest of the oil over the top.
- Leave to steep for a few hours before serving. If you refrigerate the aubergine, bring it up to room temperature before serving.