Burnt eggplant with tahini

May 14, 2012

Burnt eggplant with tahini

Page 122, Ottolenghi

We really do like eggplant. Huh. Unexpected to say the least, but this is the 3rd eggplant recipe in a row that we have *loved* from Ottolenghi’s Plenty. His method of burning the eggplant really gives it a smoky and delicious base for many different dishes. This one is reminiscent of baba ghanoush, but with slightly different flavors. I burned the eggplant on the grill this time (last time I tried the broiler of our electric oven and that also worked perfectly) and then grilled up some cauliflower ‘steaks’ to go with this as a side salad. I also lightly oiled some pita and grilled that as well to accompany our dinner. By the time I looked up from my first bite, B had almost finished her cauliflower steak. The eggplant was great, but I imagine that the grilled cauliflower steaks are the thing that will reappear on our table fairly often this summer.

 

We ate this delicious meal on the back deck and enjoyed the birds fluttering about and the flowers blooming. After eating a bit more than was realistically comfortable (or advised), we took a quick garden tour and oohed and ahed over how early everything is. Glorious, really!

Burnt Eggplant With Tahini

This can be a potent dip or condiment that you can serve with raw vegetables or to accompany lamb or fish. Or, with the optional chunks of cucumber and tomato, it can be a gloriously refreshing summer salad that exudes Middle Eastern aromas. You choose.

Serves 2–4

1 large eggplant
1/3 cup tahini paste
1/4 cup water
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and black pepper
3 mini cucumbers (6 to 7 oz in total, optional)
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes (optional)
seeds from 1/2 large pomegranate
a little olive oil to finish

First, burn the eggplant. To cook the eggplants on a gas stovetop, which is the most effective way, start by lining the area around the burners with foil to protect them. Put the eggplants directly on two moderate flames and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, turning frequently with metal tongs, until the flesh is soft and smoky and the skin is burnt all over. (I used the gas grill and it took approximately 20 minutes). Keep an eye on them the whole time so they don’t catch fire. For an electric stove, pierce the eggplants with a sharp knife in a few places. Put them on a foil-lined tray and place directly under a hot broiler for 1 hour, turning them a few times. The eggplants need to deflate completely and their skin should burn and break. When cool enough to handle scoop out the flesh into a colander, avoiding the blackened skin. Leave to drain for at least 30 minutes.

Chop the eggplant flesh roughly and transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Add the tahini, water, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic, parsley and some salt and pepper; mix well with a whisk.

Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more garlic, lemon juice or molasses if needed. You want the salad to have a robust sour/slightly sweet flavor.

If you want to add cucumber and tomatoes, cut the cucumbers lengthways in half and then each half lengthways in two. Cut each quarter into 3/8-inch-long pieces. Halve the tomatoes. Stir them and the cucumber into the eggplant mix.

To serve, spread over a shallow dish, scatter the pomegranate seeds on top and drizzle with oil.

Excerpted from Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottlenghi.

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