My Mum hates eggplant. She has refused to eat it after a bad experience of eating eggplant antipasto style– too much olive oil. If you can remember my last post, growing up what my Mum didn’t like informed what I too didn’t like, plus more. The list was extensive; non-Cadbury chocolate, eggplant, olives, white chocolate, speckly bananas… I don’t remember when I stopped copying her, but I definitely like all those things now, except for the whole non-Cadbury chocolate thing, because anything dark and non-Cadbury is my favourite kind.
In recent kitchen experiments with my Mum as chief taste-tester, I’ve tried to disguise eggplant in recipes. Roasting it with spices until its charred and caramelised, chopping it finely, hiding it in a bowl of other stuff… She always knows. I’m constantly in awe of how she cannot like the smoky flavour and creamy texture of such a versatile vegetable, and I’m always out to prove her tastebuds wrong.
One way I was sure I’d impress her was with a stuffed eggplant. In this recipe, I roast the eggplants first and then fill them, so the eggplant skin becomes brown and slighlty crispy and the filling stays chewy. Unfortunately she wouldn’t try it, but eh! More for me 🙂
Eggplant doesn’t provide a huge amount of any essential nutrient, mineral or vitamin, but it is very low in fat and contains good dose of dietary fibre– great for regulating blood sugar levels. What eggplant deserves to be recognised for though, is its adaptability. It makes such a great base in many recipes, and is suited to almost all flavour combinations.
In this recipe I’ve chosen to go the Mediterranean way. Think garlic, herbs, a hint of sweetness and zingy lemon; all squished into the creamy flesh of an eggplant. Perhaps a good alternative for a stuffed-something at Christmas?
- 2 eggplants
- 1 cup cooked barley
- 1/2 tblsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tblsp coriander seeds
- 1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 5 sprigs parsley, chopped
- 5 sprigs coriander, chopped
- 1 tblsp pomegranate molasses
- 2 tblsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- Slice eggplants length-ways and score a diamond pattern into their flesh. Place the skin side facing down, drizzle with olive oil in bake in a moderate oven (180ºC/350ºF) for 35 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat up 1 tblsp of the olive oil in a pan and add the cumin and coriander seeds. Fry until they have darkened in colour and the coriander seeds pop.
- Next, add the spring onions, cook for about 3 minutes, then add a pinch of salt and the garlic and cook for a further 3-4 minutes until golden and aromatic. Remove from heat and place in a bowl.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir until well combined.
- When ready, remove the eggplant from the oven, scoop out the flesh with a spoon, roughly chop and add to the barley mixture. Make sure you leave about 1/2 a cm of flesh around the edges, so the eggplant has stability.
- Fill eggplant skins with 3 heaped tablespoons of mixture. Serve with tahini sauce drizzled over the top.
Here’s a simple recipe for a perfect tahini sauce to drizzle over the top. Simply whisk all ingredients together with a fork and voila! If the mixture is too thick, just add an extra teaspoon-tablespoon of water.
1/4 cup tahini
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tblsp water
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
black pepper to taste