This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, we're all about Mezze - those delicious "small plates", which might be served on their own as a single appetiser, or as part of a whole spread of small dishes. Such eating lies at the very heart of many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food cultures and is, to my way of thinking, a sublime way to eat. Dish after dish of wonderful flavours and textures; hours of conviviality around the "shared table"; what's not to love?!
No such repast would be complete without a bowl of hummus or some of this deliciously smoky, garlicky, lemony, herby aubergine dip.
Now, I'll be the first to admit, that this dish wins no prizes in the looks department - in fact it bears more than a passing resemblance to something the cat brought up. Serve this up and, to a person, everyone will regard the bowl somewhat suspiciously before recoiling in horror and asking "What. Is. That?!!" Of course, I know that this is not really the kind of reaction with which you want your food to be met. But it's worth it to see that look of disgust transformed into a look of transcendent joy, and sighs of deep satisfaction, at the first mouthful. I promise you, before you know it, the bowl will be empty and everyone will be fighting over the last mouthful. I have even known those who claim to not really like aubergine, to be amongst those trying to just about scrape the pattern off the bowl in their efforts to get every last morsel of this.
This recipe is adapted, only slightly from Ottolenghi's recipe for Burnt Eggplant with Garlic, Lemon & Pomegranate Seeds from Jerusalem: A Cookbook. The garnish of pomegranate seeds would be a wonderful addition, and one I would definitely have gone for, but for the fact that they are out of season right now. And since I am presently holidaying in California (yes, I know, pinch me), I didn't have ready access to the stash of pomegranate seeds I keep in my freezer for dipping into in the off-season.
Burnt Aubergine with Garlic, Lemon & Herbs
Adapted from a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
3 large aubergine
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1x lemon, finely grated zest and juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
generous handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
generous handful mint, finely chopped
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Begin by burning the aubergines. Cut a few long slashes through the skin of each one, and put onto the grill of a hot barbeque. Turn regularly and cook until the skin is black and flaky, and the flesh is soft - about 15- 20 minutes. This is my preferred method for doing this - by far the easiest and least messy. Alternatively, after slashing the aubergine skins, place them on a baking sheet in the oven under a hot grill (you may call it a broiler in your part of the world). This will take about an hour in the oven, and you should turn them every 15 to 20 minutes so that they become blackened all over.
Remove the aubergines from the heat and leave until cool enough to handle. Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the soft flesh in long strips and discard the blackened skin. Put the flesh into a sieve set over a bowl and leave to drain for at least an hour - longer if you have the time.
Put the drained flesh into a medium-sized bowl, mash with a fork, and add in the chopped garlic, grated lemon zest (reserving a little for garnish), lemon juice, olive oil, a generous pinch of flaky sea salt and a good grind of black pepper. Set aside and allow to stand for a good hour or more at room temperature for the flavours to develop.
Stir in the herbs, adjust the seasoning as necessary, and pile into a serving bowl. Drizzle over a little extra olive oil and garnish with the remaining lemon zest.
If you would like to get to know Yotam Ottolenghi a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...
... or check out Jerusalem and Ottolenghi's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.
I'm also sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely, and very amusing, Michelle at Ms. enPlace.
This looks lovely! I have never tried using burnt eggplants, something that I have always wanted to try! Maybe before Ottolenghi theme is over, I'll try to make of his eggplant recipes!
This sounds delicious, with the lemon and herbs!
Thanks for visiting, Joyce. Burning eggplants is very easy to do, especially if you can readily pop them on the barbeque. The process seems to impart and lovely rich, smoky flavour, which is a great "canvas" for the addition of lemon and herbs.Delete
Looks so appetising Sue. Love any smoky aubergine dish, baba ghanoush being top of the list.ReplyDelete
Thanks, David. I love baba ghanoush too, and you could easily mix in a bit of tahini to this to make it a bit more like a traditional baba ghanoush.Delete
Okay....you've sold me on burnt eggplant, something I will now have to try. Your description of it makes it sound mouthwatering (and you've managed to make it look very attractive!).ReplyDelete
Thanks, Zosia. You should definitely try burnt eggplant - I think you would really like it.Delete
I'm impressed you are still blogging while away Sue! I have had my Jerusalem book for months and only last starts to read and cook from it, wonderful book. Have fun xReplyDelete
Thanks, Alli. Staying with my daughter and having free-reign in her kitchen definitely makes it a little easier to keep cooking and blogging while I'm away. It's an added bonus to me to be getting a little break from "winter cooking" and being able to enjoy some summer vegetables again for awhile. Not so sure I want to return to pumpkins and parsnips next week!! Hope you get a bit of a chance to do some cooking from Jerusalem - I know you'll love it.Delete
I can see how people might give this the old stink eye when it comes to looks. But the recipe sounds really good. Simple, refreshing ingredients. I have a flush of eggplant about to ripen...ReplyDelete
Oh, Michelle, how I envy you ... your own homegrown aubergine. I've never tried growing them myself, but I think it's not quite hot enough at home to grown them very successfully.Delete
Growing up, my dad always had eggplant in his garden. Guess what? I hated it! My son's love for it converted me. He's the reason I started growing it. Anyway, I really have to try this "burnt" method. I know I'll like it.Delete
Still giggling about the cat comment. Thank you for linking--while on vacation even!
Sue - I am so glad you are enjoying yourself in California! I've been following you along on facebook and love reading all your updates. I enjoy Whole Foods too and I imagine the ones out in California are even better than the ones we have here in KY.ReplyDelete
I have heard so many good things about the burnt eggplant. I'd love to munch on a bowl of this!
I think you'd really enjoy this one, Kim. The other thing I really like about this is that it's a really healthy, low fat option for a dip/spread. You can feel positively virtuous tucking into a whole bowlful of it - great little condiment to a variety of grills as well.Delete
Don't know what they are like elsewhere, but California Whole Foods are definitely very impressive.
Eggplant dishes will seldom be known for their beauty but boy are they good! ;-) This looks fabulous. I love the similar side with the fishcakes we both made so a whole bowl would be fabulous.ReplyDelete
Like Kim, I am enjoying your Facebook posts about your trip and glad you are having a great time. Whole Foods can be fabulous! Have you made it to a Trader Joe's yet? ;-)
You're totally right, Deb. Unattractive to look at, but definitely great on the palate. I loved that version of this with the fishcakes too.Delete
I am yet to get to Trader Joes, but I believe with have that on the agenda in the next few days :-)