Koepolo – my great-great-great-grandmother’s aubergine mash
Something I just love with this mash/dip is that it is made completely ‘by hand’ – no blender involved! I appreciate and use my blender very much of course but there’s something satisfying about using a method from long ago that don’t rely on electrical tools!
This recipe is from an area where aubergines grow abundantly and I can imagine my great-great-great-grandmother making this from a burgeoning harvest.
I've made this recipe twice in two weeks now, since starting my #3monthsofminimalplastic actually. It’s a great thing to have in the fridge for speedy snacks and meals and it freezes really well too! It's savoury, garlicky (but not too), slightly tangy, silky and just delicious. My grandmother taught me how to make it and I use it:
On sourdough bread (like you'd use hummus)
As part of a bento packed lunch or buddha bowls (the flavour goes with most things)
Dipping raw veggies or crackers in
As a pasta sauce
Right now it’s February, and I’m in the UK, but I longed for the flavours of my grandparents cooking. So I got myself some out-of-season-but-good-for-my-soul aubergines from my local greengrocer’s, fresh herbs, and a glass jar of those peppers that come roasted and preserved. You can easily find those in Turkish food shops here in London, and I can imagine in larger supermarkets too.
There’s a lovely technique for cutting the aubergines here that I’ve been wanting to show for a while. Written it would seem complicated, but you can see how fun it is in the video – I always think of cute comic book squids with lots of wobbly legs! When my grandma taught me she used a stick blender for the aubergine, then added chopped pepper and herbs. Easier for her frail hands but she also showed me the original ‘squid’ way and I prefer it. Especially as I feel that I connect with my ancestors somehow when I make this dish :)
Note: In the video I had forgotten to roast the garlic cloves so I used black, smoked garlic instead.
Koepolo – my grandmother’s aubergine mash
Enough for 2 people for 1-2 weeks. Keeps up to 4 days in the fridge. Freezes well – just place the glass jar with the top loosely on (as the contents may expand when freezing) and use within a month or so.
3 garlic cloves
1 red pepper, either from glass jar preserve, or fresh
1 big handful mint (or 2 teaspoons dry)
2 big handfuls flat leaved parsley, stalks included
2 tbsp tahini (optional)
3 tbsp (balsamic) vinegar
1 1/2 tsp natural salt + more to taste
1 tbsp paprika powder
1/2-2/3 cup (120-160ml) good quality extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper to taste
Cayenne and garlic granules to taste (optional)
Prick the aubergines with a fork (no need to brush with oil) and place them, the garlic and whole pepper (if using) in a large heat proof dish. Bake in 200ºC for 35-40 minutes, until the aubergines have ‘collapsed’ – looking slightly deflated and completely soft when inserting a stick. Leave until cool enough to handle (or let cool completely and use later).
Peel the aubergines, garlic cloves and pepper (if using). Dice them as finely as possible – see the video how :) Finely chop the herbs, including the stalks of the parsley.
Stir the tahini, vinegar, salt and paprika together in a large mixing bowl. Tahini is optional, my grandmother didn’t use it adds a little body, umami, and nutritional value to the Koepolo.
Add aubergine, garlic, pepper and fresh herbs to the bowl and start stirring, best with a wooden spoon. A damp cloth under the bowl stops it slipping. Gradually add the olive oil. Stir and stir until you have a pretty smooth, moist texture, at least 5 minutes. Taste-test, add pepper and optional cayenne and garlic granules. Taste test again to see if you need more vinegar, salt, oil .. It should taste rich and savoury and a little tangy.
Transfer to glass jars, flatten the surface and cover with a little olive oil so it keeps longer.