( SERVES 4 )
Aubergines are a superb vegetable, gorgeous to look at, a joy to hold and rich and savoury to eat. They may be enjoyed on their own or as a sumptuous accompaniment to other dishes. I dispensed with salting the cut pieces a long time ago, as the bitterness this process was supposed to remove no longer seemed to be present and the salting only seemed to make the aubergine soggy.
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Wipe the aubergine clean, trim the top of the spiky green leaves and cut the flesh into long, thin slices. Slice the onion and garlic.
- Heat some oil in a frying pan, cook the onion and garlic until the onion is softened and both are lightly coloured. Tip into a baking dish.
- Return the pan to the heat, add more oil and the aubergine slices - you may need to do this in batches. Turn over each slice as it colours, then remove to a piece of absorbent kitchen paper to drain. Lay the aubergine on top of the onion and scatter with thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper, pour the cream or soy milk over the top and cover with the grated parmesan if using. Slide the dish into the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Serve with a green salad.