Melanzane in Saor is an amazing vegetarian and vegan aubergine (eggplant) dish in a sweet and slightly sour sauce, which is unique to Venice and follows a proud history of Italian food using love, respect and time to get the best of the ingredients. It's a serious make ahead dish, needing 2 days to mature but worth the wait for those fantastic flavours and perfect for buffet spreads or picnics.

Melanzane in Saor (aubergine)

Gavin Wren Recipes, Side dishes, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Today I’m recounting an amazing Italian dish called ‘melanzane in saor’, or aubergine ‘in Saor’. It’s a very simple yet beautifully balanced Italian dish that has sweet and sour flavours that work just beautifully together. The age is the important thing, you need to make this dish well in advance to let the flavours develop, it’s perfect to make a day ahead for a buffet spread or to take along to a picnic, but don’t hurry it. If there’s one thing that Italian cooking has ever taught me, it’s that love and respect are the ingredients that make food beauteous. Visiting Venice. Just over a year ago I visited Venice, one of the most confoundingly beautiful places I’ve ever been to. I expected hustle, bustle, noise and expensive food, which was entirely correct, however I hadn’t prepared myself for the heart and soul of Venice, which is the important part.…
Courgette and aubergine antipasti is a simple vegan and vegetarian summer BBQ recipe perfect for lunches or picnics. Grilled or BBQ vegetables mixed with a simple dressing of olive oil, garlic, mint and white wine vinegar make a perfect make ahead side salad that tastes better after 24 horus in the fridge! Make the most of the summer's abundant courgettes and aubergines with this amazingly tasty Italian side dish!

Courgette and Aubergine Antipasti

Gavin Wren Recipes, Salads, Side dishes, Small Bites, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Courgettes, courgettes, courgettes. They’re coming out of my ears. They’re just everywhere at the moment. Courgettes are the fruit of summer, they’re the long, thin, green fruit of our garden England, borne forth in abundance during the summer months. Courgette and Aubergine Antipasti is an awesome way to use a load of them up, make a big platter if you have guests coming round and I assure you it will all get eaten, it tastes amazing, especially after 24 hours to meld and uses up excess vegetables in the blink of an eye. It’s also the perfect recipe for sitting in the garden, reading the paper, turning the veg on the BBQ occasionally, whilst still feeling as though I’m actually doing something useful. The Big Move. I’m writing this from a desk that is devoid of ‘stuff’. In preparation for my house move, I have cleared everything away, leaving just…
Aubergine pesto tart

Pesto aubergine tart

Gavin Wren Baking, Recipes, Spelt & ancient grains, Vegetarian

By now you’re probably thinking “errr… what’s the deal with this guy and aubergines?”. I’ll admit it, I’m sponsored by aubergines. They called me up from their field based HQ and asked if I could write about them endlessly. In return I get sod all, because they’re a bunch of plants, have no currency nor do they possess suitable ID to open a bank account to store or transfer money. They even asked me for exclusivity rights to break up my talks with the poddington peas about a mutual tie-in. Ok, maybe that’s all fantasy. Maybe. In reality, I just like aubergines, they represent something very summery to me. So on those rare occasions that the weather turns the temperature up slightly, casting sunlight towards us and beaming a gentle, welcoming smile upon our faces, I cook aubergines. I’ve extolled their virtues for quite some time in dishes such as…
Chargrilled aubergine rolls

Chargrilled aubergine bites

Gavin Wren Fish & Shellfish, Recipes, Small Bites, Starters, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

As I’ve had a bit more time on my hands this year I’ve been spending it doing the things I enjoy, one of which is burning aubergines. Rather than being some kind of sado-massochistic lachanophobic (fear of vegetables) passtime, it’s an activity that actually enhances this abundant fruit of summer. Not too long ago I shared my recipe for baba ghanoush, a dish whose success is dependent on your ability to carry out the utter incineration of an aubergine. If you think that ‘just a bit crispy’ is fine, you’re wrong, it needs to be burned beyond help, way past the point that you think it’s still edible. It seems that aubergines do something quite special when they get burned. Rather than curl up, or cry and run their finger under a cold tap, they embrace the heat, lounging like a latino lothario, they just lay back and soak it…
Baba Ghanoush aubergine dip

Baba ghanoush – the food of the gods

Gavin Wren Recipes, Side dishes, Spreads & Dips, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Ambrosia is an often overused word, hastily thrown around with levity to elevate the status of a particular food. It’s a very serious word (to me, anyway) which means ‘food of the gods’, and religious denominations aside I try to be reserved in it’s use simply out of respect. So, it’s with a certain amount of reticence that I’m considering using it in the description here. Baba Ghanoush, Mutabal or Moutabal, are some of the different names this aubergine dip goes under, with slight regional variations in both method and ingredients depending on where abouts in the world it is being made. It originates from the Middle East and I came to know it through multiplus trips to Lebanese restaurants when my girlfriend and I had just started going out. As a cook, it’s a delightfully refreshing dish to make, because I have never, ever, had anyone say “Hmmmm, I
Harissa herb aubergine with bulgur

Harissa and herb aubergine with bulgur

Gavin Wren Main Dishes, Recipes, Salads, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

If I had to describe this dish in one sentence, I’d say it’s like listening to opera whilst doing circuit training in a tutu. Now, taken literally, you could assume that this dish makes you feel like an utter idiot, which is not my intention. But if you look beyond that superficial lunacy, at the component elements, they all represent something within the dish to give you an idea of it’s characteristics. The harissa is the circuit training, the hit of spice that makes you sweat and gives the dish a kick. The opera is the mixed drama and high notes of the coriander, mint and lemon that give a bright, liberating, romantic flavour. And finally, the aubergine is the tutu, soft, silky and bringing it all together. By this point you might be feeling sorry for the poor bulgur wheat, for not getting a headline mention, but it’s not…