Barbecued baby aubergines with Med yoghurt dip

Smoke, fire, stomach doing somersaults in anticipation and, if you are lucky, sunshine pouring all over the proceedings like a special blessing… Well, I love barbecues as much as the next vegetarian person, but I get bored of unimaginative offerings, often consisting of little more than veggie burgers, jacket potatoes and corn on the cob. This simple Greek-style, broadly Mediterranean recipe is guaranteed to bring sunshine into your kitchen – whatever the weather!

Serve with pitta bread toasted on the barbecue or grill, and a platter of simply cooked green vegetables or tomato and mixed leaf salad. Serves 4.

For the yoghurt dip:

1lb/ 500g Greek yoghurt, sieved through muslin (cheesecloth)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
2 tablespoons mint leaves, finely chopped
1 small red onion, trimmed, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 oz/ 100g Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly toasted and crushed
1 tablespoon small capers (chopped if they’re too big)
1 tablespoon gherkins, finely chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the aubergines:

12 baby aubergines (eggplants)
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil, ideally Greek
Salt and pepper

1.    Make the yoghurt dip by mixing together all the dip ingredients. Set aside in a cool place to let the flavours develop.
2.    When you’re ready to eat, fire up the barbecue or grill (broiler) on medium heat. Halve the aubergines lengthwise, leaving them attached to their stalks. Using a small pastry brush, coat the cut sides with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3.    Cook the aubergines on the barbecue or grill for 3 or 4 minutes on each side, or until they are done (test each aubergine for doneness with a small skewer).
4.    Serve the aubergines with the yoghurt dip.

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