In my latest trip to South Africa, I had the most amazing 'winter salad' at Societi Bistro in Cape Town. It was a delightful combination of aubergine, beetroot, feta cheese and rocket. I decided recently that I was going to try to recreate this.
As I was tasting it in the restaurant, I was trying to make a mental note of the textures and flavours in my mouth. It was difficult to recreate and even this attempt doesn't have the same softness with the aubergines, which I think has to do with the cooking time. I've adjusted this in the recipe so you should have a better result.
The two key flavours I remember were of aniseed and sweet vinegar. I therefore decided to roast my aubergine with crushed fennel seeds and dress the salad with balsamic vinegar. I used feta cheese but I remember the cheese the restaurant used was much creamier than your bog standard feta. I will have to experiment with different salad cheeses for this.
Otherwise, I think I did pretty damn well at recreating the salad. It was too dark and I had a bit too much to drink on an empty stomach so I can't remember how it was presented. I believe it was one of those artfully tossed kind of jobs, so I went further by layering my rounds of aubergine slices on the bottom, following by rounds of beetroot slices topped with the dressed rocket and feta.
Overall, this salad is different from other salads I've had with a refreshing and comforting palate suitable for the late summer/early autumn in the UK. Have a go!
2 medium Aubergine, thinly sliced
3 medium Beetroot, thinly sliced
half a pack of Feta cheese
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
handful of Rocket leaves
1.5 tsp crushed Fennel seeds
Begin by pre-heating your oven to 160 degrees. Salt your aubergine slices to draw the moisture out and then lay on a flat oven proof dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, lots of pepper and the crushed fennel seeds. Cook until softened for 30-40 minutes, turning the slices once during cooking time.
When the aubergine slices are ready, leave them to cool down for a little bit as you make your dressing by whisking together balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper in bowl. Toss in your rocket leaves and mix well. Assemble your dish laying the aubergine first, then the beetroot, then your dressed rocket followed by a scattering of feta cheese. Eat.