Grilled aubergine with miso vinaigrette and pickled plums

A captivating umami-rich creation that will astonish your dinner party guests. What’s more, it can be prepared ahead of time. It shines as a standalone vegan appetizer or main course, but also complements BBQ’d meats perfectly as a side dish.

Grilled aubergine with miso vinaigrette and pickled plums

Preparation time
over 2 hours

Cooking time
10 to 30 mins

Serves 4


By Richard Bainbridge
From Saturday Kitchen


For the pickled plums

  • 400ml/14fl oz rice vinegar
  • 200ml/7fl oz cider vinegar
  • 400g/14oz brown sugar
  • 100g/3½oz sea salt
  • good pinch fennel seeds
  • 1–2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 springs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 plums, stones removed and cut Into eighths

For the fig leaf vinegar

  • 1 litre/1¾ pints cider vinegar
  • large handful fig leaves, washed, cleaned and dried

For the aubergine

  • 1 aubergine, sliced into 6–8 discs
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 50g/1¾oz miso paste
  • 30ml/1fl oz fig leaf vinegar (see above)
  • 150g/5½oz pickled button mushrooms, drained and sliced in half
  • 150g/5½oz girolle mushrooms
  • 2–3 pickled plums (see above)
  • 100g/3½oz hazelnuts, toasted
  • 2 figs (optional), cut into eighths
  • selection soft herbs, such as fresh flatleaf parsley, coriander, basil and chervil or edible flowers
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the plums, place everything except the plums in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer, then leave the liquid to cool for 5 minutes. Place the plums in clean, sterilised jars and carefully pour the pickling liquor over the top. Screw the lids on and leave to cool, then store the pickled plums in a cool, dark place.

  2. To make the fig leaf vinegar, place the vinegar in a large saucepan and warm over a low heat. Once the vinegar is simmering, remove from the heat and leave to cool a little. Transfer the fig leaves into a clean, sterilised jar and carefully pour the vinegar over the top. Screw the lid on and store in a cool, dark place.

  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. To make the aubergine, lightly season the aubergine discs with salt and pepper and drizzle with rapeseed oil. Preheat a grill to the highest temperature. Once hot, place the aubergines carefully on the grill pan and grill for 2–4 minutes until beautifully golden with lovely bar marks. Turn over and repeat on the other side. Remove from the grill and leave to cool to room temperature.

  4. Meanwhile, make the miso vinaigrette. Place the miso paste in a bowl, add the fig leaf vinegar and slowly pour in the rapeseed oil while continuously whisking. If the miso paste is thick, add a small amount of warm water to let down to a dressing consistency. Brush the miso vinaigrette over the aubergines and place them in the hot oven for 3–4 minutes until softened. Remove and brush again, then keep warm.

  5. To serve, place 2–3 grilled aubergine discs in the middle of a serving bowl. Place the pickled mushrooms, girolle mushrooms, pickled plums, hazelnuts and figs, if using, in a small bowl and add a tablespoon of miso vinaigrette. Toss well until everything is completely covered, then carefully spoon this on top of the aubergine and scatter the fresh herbs or flowers over the top. Add a twist of black pepper over the dish to finish and enjoy this simple recipe with staggeringly complex flavours.

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