Hey Radishers! Get ready for an intense crispy-tender eggplant with garlic yogurt sauce and sweet-tart pomegranate arils. What?! It’s on the cover of a cookbook, but you can make this, friends. Trust me.
In a geeky way I hope you missed me – I was away for a few days, but it was for Hello Kitty Con in LA, and I made a kick-butt HK bento box. Check it out.
Before our LA trip, I found tiny eggplants, pretty much in keeping with the SUPERCUTE theme. I think they might be a mid-to-late summer thing so if you can’t find tiny eggplants, just use regular Italian or Japanese (kind of medium sized but slender) eggplants, because IT’S THE COVER PHOTO of Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook and that’s what they use. I just went all supercute on them because I had access to the baby eggplants. So there. If cuteness can be added to deliciousness, I vote yes. (I exercised my voting rights yesterday. Yes I did. I hope you did too.)
ROASTED EGGPLANTS WITH THYME, GARLIC YOGURT SAUCE AND POMEGRANATE ARILS
Adapted from Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi
1 lb. eggplant – obviously I used baby and “fairy” eggplant which is just as magical as it sounds – super tiny and delicate – but if you don’t have this, use a slender variety like Italian or Japanese, to make 1 lb. Just not the giant globe kind – I love them but this isn’t their thing. Slice those babies in half.
1/3 c. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme (if you have more than this, just place random thyme branches around your dish before you cook it and you’ll look totally fancy)
Zest of 1 lemon (I confess, the original recipe calls for lemon thyme, but what’s that?! So I subbed in regular ol’ thyme and some lemon zest and it was fabulous.)
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 c. Greek yogurt
1 1/2 T. olive oil, plus more as a drizzle to finish
1-2 small garlic cloves, pressed (the original recipe calls for 1, but I used 2, and it was like SUPER GARLIC CITY. I like to live there, but I don’t know if you do. If you like Medium Garlic City, stick with 1 clove.)
pinch of flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. za’atar (this is a Middle Eastern spice I want, but totally did not have. If you don’t either, mix 1/2 tsp sesame seeds, 1/2 tsp. flaky sea salt, 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, and if you have it, 1/2 tsp. ground sumac (reddish powder which tastes slightly tart). If you don’t have sumac, put in more lemon zest.) Yes, I can do math and this makes more than 1 tsp. but you can save it, or use it a little more liberally. Up to you.
1/4- 1/2 c. pomegranate arils (those are fresh pomegranate seeds. I got mine ready to use – already released from the pomegranate from FreshDirect. Alternatively you could used chopped dried cranberries – that would be superyum!)
Equipment: Baking sheet, perhaps with parchment paper or a silpat to prevent sticking. If not, just use some nonstick spray.
Roast those bad boys: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. I know I said to halve the baby eggplants above. If you didn’t yet, do that now. You can leave the stalk on, that’s for looks. Later, just don’t eat that little spiky guy. Use a small knife to make a few parallel incisions in each half of the eggplant. Then make slices the other way, but not all the way through the skin. Fancy!
On your baking sheet covered with parchment paper or nonstick spray, place the eggplant halves cut side up. Brush them with the olive oil – both sides, leave no eggplant behind. I mean it. Eggplants are thirsty for olive oil and you want to give it to them. On the cut side, sprinkle with flaky sea salt, freshly ground pepper, thyme, and lemon zest. Roast ’em for 35-40 minutes. Even the little ones take this long so just have patience, my friend.You know they’re done because they look delicious and golden AND they are soft when you pierce them with a knife.
Make the sauce: Place the yogurt in a small bowl. Whisk in the pressed garlic, olive oil, big pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper.
Serve: Once the eggplants are done, place them on your serving plates. Top with yogurt garlic sauce, then za’tar, then pomegranate arils or chopped dried cranberries. If you’ve got any chopped parsley around, that’s nice too. Go you!!