Sunday, December 13, 2009

a return to vegetables

Eggplant Slices with Pomegranate, Yogurt and Tahini

If you've been reading Thin Crust Deep Dish lately, you might think that Adriana and I barely eat anything besides desserts, that we're always baking but never cooking. I've felt a bit like we were working on a baking blog instead of an all-food blog. This is partially true for Adriana. She's in the midst of her Baking and Pastry section in culinary school, and she churns out crusty breads and flaky doughs each night. I, on the other hand, have been doing a lot of roasting and sauteeing. It just seems that my more photogenic projects are always the sweets. Plus, my weeknight cooking rarely uses a recipe. We might roast some Brussels sprouts or a chicken with vegetables, or create impromptu tacos, but it's rarely something that seems worthy of showcasing for you.

I've been going out on limbs, though, with my cooking. I'm trying new things, and I want to share more with you. Earlier this week I made Heidi's garlic soup, which exceeded my expectations. Instead of sopping up the soup with a baguette, I toasted a slice of Ezekiel sprouted grain bread, slathered it in butter, and dipped. The resulting meal was satisfying and comforting.

The last time I was back in Seattle, I coaxed my mom into letting me borrow her copy of Arabesque, Claudia Roden's elegant book exploring the foods of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon. This is one of those cookbooks from which you want to cook everything. Each recipe contains spices and foods that I wouldn't have thought to combine on my own. This eggplant recipe is one of those. It is a wonderful, surprising combination of flavors. It's also a beautiful dish, one that I would love to serve at a dinner party or on a holiday. I'll attest that it tastes just as good served on a weeknight after you just got home from the gym.

Eggplant Slices with Pomegranate, Yogurt, and Tahini
(Batinjan Bil Rumman Wal Laban)
Adapted from Claudia Roden's Arabesque
Serves 6 to 8

The dressing of pomegranate molasses and vinegar gives the eggplant slices a sweet-and-sour flavor. Serve them hot or cold, with the yogurt and tahini topping at room temperature.

4 eggplants (about 2 1/2 pounds)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbs. pomegranate molasses*
1 1/2 Tbs. red or white wine vinegar
2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 Tbs. tahini
1/4 cup pine nuts

Cut the eggplants, lengthwise or crosswise, into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Place them on an oiled sheet of foil or a Silpat on a baking sheet or tray. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Place in a very hot oven preheated to 475 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes, until they are soft and browned, turning the slices over once. Arrange on a shallow serving dish.

Mix the pomegranate molasses*, vinegar, and 2 Tbs. olive oil, and brush the eggplant slices with the dressing. Beat the yogurt with the garlic and tahini and pour over the slices. Fry the pine nuts very briefly in 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, stirring to brown them very lightly all over (be very careful not to burn the pine nuts), and sprinkle over the yogurt.

Variation: Sprinkle the dish with the pink seeds of a fresh pomegranate in addition to the pine nuts.


*You can find pomegranate molasses at Middle Eastern markets and upscale gourmet shops. If you don't have any (as I did not), you can replace it with the juice of half a lemon whisked with 1 tsp. of honey. I thought it worked excellently with this substitution.

1 comment:

  1. What a colorful dish, and so good for you, too.



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