I love dinner in bowl and this really is a hearty option for a winter’s evening. Roasted aubergine with a chick pea crust,a spicy tomato salsa and steamed spinach is what I created for us yesterday evening after a cold afternoon on the fells.  In my opinion satisfying, healthy and delicious comfort food to bring cheer to a stormy January day!

Spicy Tomato Salsa:

1 onion, sliced

1 tbsp. olive oil

3 fat cloves garlic, crushed

1 red chilli

1 can of chopped tomatoes

70g pot double concentrated tomato puree

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. Ras al Hanout

1 large aubergine

300g bag spinach

Smashed chick peas:

Handful mint leaves, washed & de-stalked

Handful parsley, washed & de-stalked

150g chickpeas (drained weight)

Juice & zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. tahini

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

½ tsp caraway seeds

Sea-salt & freshly ground black pepper


Sauté the onion until it starts to soften and then add the chilli, paprika, Ras al Hanout and garlic.  Stir the spices around the pan and then add the tomatoes, tomato purée and balsamic vinegar.  Turn up the heat until the salsa starts bubbling and then turn right down and leave to simmer very gently for up to 45 minutes (or longer if you have time), stir frequently to check the salsa isn’t sticking or burning at the bottom.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Whizz the herbs in a mini-blender until finely chopped and then add the chickpeas. Pulse the blender for a couple of short blasts to “smash” the chickpeas rather than purée.  Tip the mix into a bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients, folding until well blended.

Slice the aubergine, lengthwise into 4-5 slices, place onto a greased baking tray and brush the upper side with olive oil.  Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until the aubergine slices have softened and started to turn golden.  Flip the slices over, spread thickly with the “smash” and return to the oven for a further 6-8 minutes or until the smash starts to turn more golden.

At the last moment, throw the spinach into a steamer and steam for a 1-2 minutes until the leaves start to wilt.  Serve everything to wide bowl for total winter “comfort food.

Optional Extra: Couple of tablespoons of brown rice or quinoa per person and a dollop of hummus.