Tag Archives: Eggplant

Smoked eggplant rolls

Babaganoush-Stuffed Eggplant Rolls with Spiced Tomato Sauce and Herbed Cream

Serves 4 as an entree, 2 as a main

These days I often find myself with not much at all in the fridge. It’s so difficult to get to the organic grocer after work, and they never have any veggies left on the weekend. I have started supplementing with some conventional produce from the local fruit shop, but they have no flavour and I really do hate eating pesticides, so I buy as little as possible.

And so it was that I found myself with nothing but two eggplants in the fridge last night. Luckily, eggplant is one of the most versatile vegetables out there, and can easily become a spectacular dish without any of its vegetable friends.

Like most people I’m sure, if I have more than one eggplant, one of them is going to get smoked and turned into baba ganoush. I mean, who doesn’t make baba ganoush on a weekly basis? It’s right there with hummus. But I didn’t want a bowl of dip, because I had nothing to dip into it. Luckily eggplant stuffed with eggplant is a legitimate thing.  Now I could happily just eat eggplant stuffed with baba ganoush on its own, but that isn’t much of a weekend dish, so I raided the fortunately well stocked cupboards and here we have it, a spectacularly delicious but incredibly easy meal.

All of the elements on the plate can be made in advance, however the different temperatures are important. The spiced tomato sauce should be warm, the eggplant slices should be warm, the baba ganoush should be room temperature and the cashew cream should be chilled. The combination of hot and cold, sweet and salty and smokiness is what makes this dish shine. But don’t worry, it’s actually incredibly easy to coordinate, and you will have a restaurant quality dish to serve as a starter at your next dinner party.

Ingredients

The baked eggplant

1 large eggplant, sliced 7mm thick lengthwise (you should get 8 slices, or more)

The babaganoush/Smoked eggplant filling

1 large eggplant (really large – use two if unsure, you can always adjust the seasoning accordingly)

3 tbsp tahini

1 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste

3 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped

Handful fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

The tomato sauce

3 tbsp olive oil

3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 large brown onion, very finely chopped

2 heaped tbsp tomato paste

2 cups passata

1 heaped tbsp brown sugar

3/4 tsp ground cumin, or to taste

1/2 tsp ground coriander, or to taste

1/4 tsp paprika, or to taste

Scant 1/4 tsp ground ginger

Dash cayenne pepper or hot chilli powder

Salt and pepper to taste

The lemon-herb cream

1/3 cup cashews, soaked a couple of hours, OR pinenuts (better but expensive) OR a combination of both

1/3 cup water

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1tbsp lemon juice, or to taste

a few sprigs fresh parsley

a couple sprigs fresh mint

Splash olive oil

Salt to taste

To garnish

Finely chopped Sicilian green olives (or other mild green olives), around 8

Fresh mint, chopped (a few tablespoons)

A few sprigs parsley

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 200C

2. Make the lemon-herb cream

Place the pinenuts/soaked cashews, 1/3 cup water, lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt into a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Add the parsley and mint and blend again until the herbs are very finely chopped. Scrape into a bowl/container and adjust seasoning to taste. It should taste good on its own, and be quite refreshing. Place in the fridge to chill

3. Make the babaganoush

Place the eggplant directly onto the flame on your stove. Leave to blacken and char, then turn to do the next side. Repeat until all the skin has blackened and the eggplant is soft and collapsing. It should look like this:

IMG_0167

Allow the eggplant to cool to room temperature, then peel off the skin. A flew flecks are ok if you miss them, but no big bits. Place the flesh into a food processor and add all remaining ingredients. Pulse until creamy and the parsley is finely chopped. Adjust seasoning to taste and set aside.

4. Make the tomato sauce and bake the eggplant

Place the eggplant slices onto a baking paper lined tray. Brush both sides of each slice generously with olive oil and then rub a small pinch of salt into each side. Don’t go overboard, you aren’t rinsing this salt off. Place the eggplant in the oven and cook 10 minutes, then flip and cook another 10 minutes or until soft and slightly browned.

While they’re baking away, heat the olive oil in a pan over low heat. Add the onions and cook until clear and sticky and starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the tomato paste and spices and mix well. Add the passata, sugar and a big pinch salt and stir well. Bring to the boil then reduce to a rapid simmer. Cook, stirring often, until it is quite thick, around 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste, then set aside to cool five minutes before serving.

5. Assemble

Spread a couple of spoonfuls of tomato sauce in the middle of four plates. Take a few spoons of babaganoush and place them at one end of an eggplant slice. Roll up and repeat for all slices. Place two rolls on top of the tomato sauce. Spoon a few teaspoon full amounts of the lemon-herb cream around the edge of the plate. Top with a sprinkling of finely chopped olives and a tablespoon or so of roughly chopped mint*, then garnish with a sprig of parsley. Serve immediately.

*A note about presentation. I was incredibly rushed to get this photographed, as Fabio was heading out the door with the camera, so I didn’t have time to properly dress the plate. I was also hungry and wasn’t going to save any for the next day to photograph later, so I had 30 seconds. I didn’t finely chop the olives or put enough mint on for the photo, but I did to serve. Follow the instructions, not the picture.

smoked eggplant shakshuka

Lentil & Smoked Eggplant Shakshuka

Serves 4

Shakshuka might be one of the greatest breakfast dishes of all time, but it makes a pretty mean dinner too, especially with the addition of lentils. Typically a poached egg dish, this wildly delicious version doesn’t need eggs at all. Smoky, creamy and spicy, this will have you licking your lips and soaking up every last drop. I really don’t have much else to say. It’s easy and relatively quick, but will impress anyone you put it in front of. If you’re looking for brunch ideas to serve to your guests, or an easy dinner that tastes like it was way more effort, look no further.

Make this and eat it. That is all.

Ingredients

1/2 cup dried whole red lentils

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 red capsicums, julienned or finely chopped (0.5cm or so)

2 tbsp harissa paste

1 1/2 to 2tsp ground cumin, to taste

800g tinned diced tomatoes

2tbsp tomato paste

2 eggplants, approx 800g

3 tbsp tahini (45ml)

2-3tbsp lemon juice, to taste

Salt and black pepper

Olive oil

A few tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Method

1. Place the lentils in a saucepan and cover with a few inches of water. Bring to the boil and cook until the lentils are just tender, but still firm to the bite. Drain, rinse, set aside.

2. Meanwhile, place the eggplants directly onto the gas burner, turning every couple of minutes, until the skin is fully burnt and blackened and and the eggplants collapse in on themselves. Set aside on a plate until cool enough to handle.

3. Heat approx 2tbsp olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the capsicum and cook, stirring often, until softened. Add the garlic and harissa, and cook a few minutes until the garlic has softened. Add the cumin and stir a minute more. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and one teaspoon of sea salt, stir well and bring to a simmer.

4. Stir in the lentils and let it all simmer away for approximately 20 minutes, stirring often. You may need to add a little water along the way if it gets too dry, you want a thick, juicy sauce consistency. Check the seasoning and reduce heat to very low to keep warm.

5. Meanwhile, cut the eggplants in half and scrape the flesh out into a bowl. Try not to get more than a few flecks of skin in the bowl. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and stir it up with a fork. Spoon it into the middle of the tomato mixture, and give a quick, gentle stir to spread it out a little. Don’t mix it too much, you don’t want to completely blend it all together. Let it heat through a couple of minutes without stirring.

6. Meanwhile, put the tahini in a bowl and mix in the lemon juice. Add water 1 tbsp at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition, until you have a smooth, creamy sauce the consistency of pouring cream. You won’t need more than 3tbsp. Season with salt to taste. Remove the pan from the heat, and drizzle with half the tahini sauce. Sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately in the pan with bread and the remaining tahini sauce on the side.