Melrose and Morgan
Melrose and Morgan cook carefully sourced food for all occasions
When Melrose and Morgan arrived in Primrose Hill in 2004 it took us a while to work out quite what they were. A café? Coffee shop? Sandwich bar? Upmarket grocery? Outside caterer? Traiteur? We found they were all those things, which was nice, but did they have to be so expensive? Well yes, they did, because every single thing on M&M’s shelves is hand-made, usually on the premises. It’s hard to believe that the cooks who assemble salads and bake those ethereal meringues can also cure and cook whole hams and hunky 4kg cuts of brisket in the same kitchen
You don’t get this sort of quality at supermarket prices, and sensible Primrose Hillians have come to treasure this source of impeccable food right on our doorsteps. We love to pick up a lunch-time salad or a well-made pie from the big display table, replenished three times a day. We like to know where to go for a picnic hamper to take up the hill or to the Open Air Theatre. It’s hard to think of a gastronomic need they can’t cover, and it would come as no surprise if local estate agents started boasting proximity Melrose and Morgan to the attractions listed on their sales literature.
Aubergine, Feta and Tomato Sauce with Lentils
Serves 6 as a starter or part of a sumptuous late-summer buffet spread
- 3 x 500g aubergines
- 2-3tbsp olive oil
- 250g onions
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 large sticks celery
- 300g Puy lentils
- 100g feta cheese
- 6 basil leaves
for the tomato sauce
- 5 medium-sized fresh tomatoes
- 3 small shallots
- 1 garlic clove
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 240g chopped tomatoes canned in tomato juice
- 2tsp fresh oregano leaves
Make tomato sauce first. Put fresh tomatoes into a bowl or pan, pour on boiling water to cover. After 20 seconds, drain and run under cold tap to cool tomatoes, then peel and roughly chop them. Peel and finely chop shallots and mince garlic. Heat 1tbsp oil in a medium-sized pan, add shallots and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until translucent. Add garlic, cook for a further minute or two, then add fresh and canned tomatoes and the oregano, season lightly and cook over very low heat until sauce is thick and chunky.
Heat oven to 180C/gas 4. Halve aubergines lengthways and, without piercing skins, make 3 or 4 lengthways slashes in the flesh. Brush cut surfaces with oil and fry cut-side down in a frying pan (in batches if necessary) until golden brown. Transfer cut-side up to a roasting tin and bake for 15-20mins until soft and well cooked. Remove from oven and leave to cool in the tin.
Peel and finely chop the onions, mince garlic, string and thinly slice celery and fry these gently together in 1-2tbsp oil stirring regularly over low-medium heat until softened.
Meantime wash and cook the lentils in a pan with plenty of water for about 25mins until soft but not mushy, salting them after about 20mins. When they are done drain, rinse and thoroughly drain again, mix in onion and celery mixture and leave to cool completely.
To serve, arrange each aubergine to the side of its plate, spread tomato sauce thickly over each, crumble on feta cheese and garnish each with a basil leaf. Spoon lentil mixture alongside.
Melrose and Morgan
42 Gloucester Avenue
London NW1 8JD
Tel 020 7722 0011
Photography: Aruna Khanzada