This is a winning recipe to make for friends as everything can be prepared in advance – the aubergine can be roasted, the saffron yoghurt put together, all the nuts and herbs ready to go – and then just simply assembled before serving. It’s also big and bold – both visually and in terms of flavour – which helps add to the ‘wow’. When dressing roasted vegetables with thick sauces like this, we tend to use a large slotted spoon in our shops. scoop up the sauce with the spoon and then, holding the long handle in one hand (and making sure the spoon head is over the platter), use your other hand to firmly bash the handle a few times. This will, with a tiny bit of practice, help the sauce to fall through the spoon evenly and elegantly on to the vegetables.
3 medium aubergines, cut into 2cm-thick round slices or long wedges
olive oil, for brushing
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
a handful of pomegranate seeds
20 basil leaves
flaky sea salt and black pepper
a small pinch of saffron strands
3 tbsp hot water
180g Greek yoghurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
2½ tsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1. For the saffron yoghurt, infuse the saffron in the hot water in a small bowl for 5 minutes. Pour the infusion into a bowl containing the yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and some salt. Whisk well to get a smooth, golden sauce. Taste and adjust the salt, if necessary, then chill. This sauce will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days.
2. Preheat the oven to 240°C/220°C fan/Gas Mark 9. Place the aubergine slices on a roasting tray, brush with plenty of olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-35 minutes, until the slices take on a beautiful light brown colour. Let them cool down. The aubergines will keep in the fridge for 3 days; just let them come to room temperature before serving.
3. To serve, arrange the aubergine slices on a large plate, slightly overlapping. Drizzle the saffron yoghurt over them, sprinkle with the pine nuts and pomegranate seeds and lay the basil on top.