Cashew Aubergine

So, nightshades and dairy should not be paired under Ayurveda. As such many lovely, comforting dishes such as moussaka, enchiladas or tomato-based lasagne might fall from our repertoires. Do we take this lying down? Do we rebel? Over here we like to think outside the box and invent ways around these things. The (surprisingly cheesy) vegan cheese in this recipe provides a great texture for a quick, homely rehashing of traditional veggie moussaka and takes minutes to make; a delicious and nutritious layer on a beautifully herb and spiced little tray, laced with great olive oil, whilst also keeping us kosher with Ayurvedic principles.

Don’t fear good fats in a dish like this and don’t count the calories. Eating healthily is understanding the things that nourish us and the ways in which they work. It is not concerning ourselves with weight loss. Never use ‘low fat’ alternatives to natural, whole ingredients. Use good things. Eat well. Listen to your body. Be mindful. If you do so, your weight and healthy appearance will take care of itself. Yes, Ayurveda makes suggestions re the right nuts and oils to use to maintain optimal health, weight, digestion for your dosha (see below), BUT because we’re all about healthy and realistic perspective here, we also know (because we’ve been eating this way for 5 years) that a natural, home-cooked meal that’s high in good fats will trounce any fat-skimming store-bought alternative, any day of any week – in taste, texture, satisfaction and health benefits.

Ayurvedic notes
Nightshades (i.e. aubergine, pepper, potato, tomato) are not for everyone… and aubergine is not recommended for Vata. Pitta can occasionally enjoy, but, again, this ought not to be a staple vegetable. Kapha, on the other hand, can enjoy freely. We’ve used cashew nuts here to make the cheese and it gives a great texture and flavour, but this is an ‘every now and then’ dish, as cashew nuts are not ideal for the Kapha dosha. Why? According to Ayurveda, the Kapha constitution is already and innately ‘well-oiled’, tending to have lustrous skin and hair and a healthy, robust body, nuts make a good occasional sub for other things, but are not meant to become a staple regular, when they can raise the Kapha dosha too much (Vata on the other hand, can enjoy all nuts, while Pitta can enjoy occasionally too).

Ingredients

1 large aubergine
1 large garlic clove, crushed and sliced
1 small red onion or half a large one
Half a sliced red pepper
Half a sliced green pepper
1 small green chilli
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon organic tomato paste
A sprig of fresh oregano
1tsp. dried oregano
An overflowing handful of quinoa
A tsp of dried flat leaf parsley
A handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
10 hazelnuts, chopped in rough pieces
1heaped tsp. of paprika
A handy bottle of good, organic, extra virgin olive oil

Cashew and tofu ‘cheese’:
A handful of cashew nuts
100g of organic tofu
1 lemon
Sea salt
½ tsp of smoked paprika

Served with:
6 or 7 small, seasonal tomatoes on the vine

Method

  • 1 Slice your aubergine in half vertically and cut most of the flesh from the centre of each half. Place the hollowed aubergine in a baking dish and drizzle liberally with olive oil. Place the vine tomatoes alongside sprinkled with olive oil, dried oregano and sea salt
  • 2 Into a separate dish finely cube the aubergine flesh. Add your garlic, chilli, peppers, red onion, cinnamon, tomato paste and oregano; both fresh and dried. Splash with olive oil and season with sea salt, black pepper and a pinch of red chilli flakes. Stir to combine
  • 3 Place both dishes in the oven, preheated to gas mark 7 or 220 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes while you prepare your quinoa and vegan cheese
  • 4 Add your quinoa to a pan of boiling water and simmer for 20 minutes
  • 5 Tumble your cashews into a food processor with the tofu, a generous pinch of salt, the juice of a lemon and your smoked paprika. Blitz to a smooth texture, like soft goat’s cheese
  • 6 When the quinoa is cooked, drain well and stir in the dried and fresh parsley and the hazelnuts. Season with salt and a splash of olive oil
  • 7 After 30 minutes remove the baking dishes from the oven. Add a tablespoon each of the quinoa and vegan cheese to the dish of veg and spices and stir in. Spoon the mix into the hollowed aubergine skins and douse liberally with olive oil
  • 8 Spread the remaining vegan cheese over the top and spoon the quinoa into the spare corners of your baking dish. Return to the oven for a further 20 minutes. Remove and grind well with black pepper and serve two with half a stuffed aubergine each and sides of (by now) crisp parsley and hazelnut quinoa and (by now) incredible roasted tomatoes