Eggplant with Tahina and an Eggplant Blog Hop

Eggplant with Tahina and Pomegranate Seeds

In the Middle East there’s a saying that a woman is not ready to wed until she can cook an eggplant (i.e. aubergine) 1,000 ways. Before you start huffing and puffing about the gendered implications of this adage, I think the New York Times explained it well: “The saying is less about preparing women for marriage, though, than it is about the amazing versatility of the eggplant.” Indeed, living in Israel my appreciation for these humble, purple-skinned vegetables has skyrocketed. On a single dinner table they can appear in countless forms. Usually it begins with flame roasted eggplants, but after that they can be pureed with tahina for baba ghanouj, mayo for an entirely different dip, or lemon juice and olive oil for eggplant “caviar.” Israelis make a convincing vegetarian chopped liver (devised in the 1940s when times were tough and meat was rare) using fried eggplant and hard boiled eggs. Continue reading “Eggplant with Tahina and an Eggplant Blog Hop”

Miso-Glazed Tofu and Eggplant

Miso is one of my favorite flavors. Sure, fermented soy beans don’t sound like they’d be good, but who can resist a steaming bowl of miso soup or salad dressed with bright, flavorful miso dressing? Typically I use miso when cooking fish – there isn’t a sea creature out there that doesn’t benefit from a nice coating of miso – but this time I used it in a vegetarian preparation. I simply mixed it with a little sesame oil and mirin to thin it ever so slightly and slathered it on slices of tofu and eggplant before broiling it (this would be just wonderful on the grill too). Continue reading “Miso-Glazed Tofu and Eggplant”

A Middle Eastern Spread

Next to the massive, leisurely breakfasts so famous in Israel, mezze is the next best part of any meal. This array of little dips and spreads often clutter the table at restaurants that specialize in meat skewers, but they also show up in any number of places and are favorites to make at home. The dishes are an illustration of the diversity of Israeli cuisine, with roots in Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and even Europe. Everyone has their own variations and ratio of spices. To read more about mezze check out my recent article on the subject for the Jewish Daily Forward’s food blog, The Jew and the Carrot. Continue reading “A Middle Eastern Spread”

Cumin-Scented Eggplant with Pomegranate

Warning: this dish is addictive. The super savory cumin contrasts with the sweet pomegranate syrup and meaty eggplant for a killer vegetable side dish with bold Middle Eastern flavors. Since most of the cooking is done in the oven and the eggplant can be served at room temperature this is an easy side to make ahead for company. I served it with Butternut Squash and Sage Cannelloni, but it would be an equally good accompaniment for braised meat, roast chicken, herbed couscous, or a light salad. A dollop of labneh on top of each eggplant (a la this recipe) is also really good. Continue reading “Cumin-Scented Eggplant with Pomegranate”

Baingan Bharta: A Tale of Pantry Desperation and Innovation

It did begin with me alone in the kitchen with an eggplant, but this wasn’t some lame attempt to recreate a Laurie Colwin essay. I was trying to come up with a quick meal using only the ingredients I had on hand that could be easily reheated. And considering I hadn’t been shopping all week, this was a particular challenge. That’s when I remembered the eggplant. Two of them. Trapped in my crisper for a week, or was it two? They couldn’t still be good. But against all odds they looked fine. They smelled innocuous. I cut into them, surprised to find completely typical, fresh eggplants. Now I just needed a plan. Continue reading “Baingan Bharta: A Tale of Pantry Desperation and Innovation”