Another offering from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s gorgeous ode to Middle Eastern fare, Jerusalem. This time it’s a smoky and intense Burnt Eggplant with Garlic, Lemon and Pomegranate Seeds. Redolent of the flavours of one of my favourite dips baba ghanoush.
Yotam and Sami suggest to burn your eggplants by placing them directly onto your gas burners. A bit too adventurous for me. All I could think about was the unholy mess that would create. So to save the effort of a clean up I placed mine on a well lined oven tray and under a hot grill.The result? Amazing. Layer upon layer of delicious flavour. The intensity of the lush and smoky eggplant infused with garlic and lemon. Punctuated by the crunch and sweetness of the pomegranate seeds.
The process couldn’t be easier. Char your eggplant until the skins are blistered and burnt. When cool enough to handle, peel away the silky soft, unctuous strips of flesh. Marinate with garlic, lemon and olive oil. Pile high on a serving plate with pomegranate and soft herbs. I served mine meze style with Hummus and Oven Baked Pita Crisps courtesy of one of my very early posts Bring a Plate. Lemon and Garlic Hummus with Homemade Pita Crisps. Another fabulous recipe to keep and repeat time and time again. The perfect accompaniment to an afternoon of relaxed entertaining around the barbecue.
Burnt Eggplant with Garlic, Lemon and Pomegranate Seeds
From Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Serves 4 as part of a meze plate (Makes about 3 cups)
4 large eggplants
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mint
seeds of 1/2 large pomegranate
pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
IF you have a gas range, line the base with aluminum foil to protect it, keeping only the burners exposed. Place the eggplants directly on four separate gas burners with medium flames and roast for 15 to 18 minutes, until the skin is burnt and flaky and the flesh is soft. Use metal tongs to turn them around occasionally. Alternatively, score the eggplants with a knife in a few places, about 3/4 inch deep and place on a baking sheet under a hot broiler for about an hour. Turn them around every 20 minutes or so and continue to cook even if they burst and break.
REMOVE the eggplants from the heat and allow them to cool down slightly. Once cool enough to handle, cut an opening along each eggplant and scoop out the soft flesh, dividing it with your hands into long thin strips. Discard the skin. Drain the flesh in a colander for at least an hour, preferably longer, to get rid of as much water as possible.
PLACE the eggplant pulp in a medium bowl and add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Stir and allow the eggplant to marinate at room temperature for at least an hour.
WHEN you are ready to serve, mix in most of the herbs and taste for seasoning. Pile high on a serving plate, scatter on the pomegranate seeds, and garnish with the remaining herbs.