Guest post from Israel: Aubergines (aka eggplants)

So, my friend Anat from Israel, who was kind enough to take me around the Jerusalem food market (I do love food markets!), during my trip to Israel last year was kind enough to do a guest blog post about aubergines (aka egg plant). My relationship with eggplants is a long one. Why? You might ask. Because I love the look of them. They are always in the local fruit & veggie markets of Lagos and I always seem to buy them. But! Oh but! The problem is I get them home and never know what to do with them. So they sit in the fridge until they start to rot. In the bin they go. Sigh! While in Jerusalem I saw the biggest juciest eggplants ever. And the colour, my oh my, the colour was just gorgeous. They really want to make you stop, buy, cook and eat them.  Anyhoot! I was quite pleased she offered to share her eggplant recipes with me. I totally am going to try these. And eggplant pizza (for me without the cheese)? Genius! Fire up the grill somebody please.

Post, photos and recipes courtesy of Anat.

Due to Its’ versatile nature eggplant (or as they are known in France, Aubergine) has become a key ingredient in almost every cuisine from France to Japan. It is one of the most popular vegetables in mediterranean cuisine and can easily be the core ingredient to many starters.  There are currently several varieties of eggplant in the market, my personal preference are the dark, long pear shaped variety, with a perfectly intact skin (no scratches and no bruises), which are fairly light in weight when you pick them up. The heavy eggplants will be full of seeds.  I tend to serve at least one eggplant-based dish during our weekly family gatherings. Eggplant pizza and eggplant spread are our favorites. It’s exciting to see that many of the ingredients for these dishes are readily available in Nigeria, which by the way, I have visited several times.

Eggplant spread

Eggplant (aubergine) pizza

Eggplant Spread

Ingredients

3 large fresh eggplants (skin fully intact)

Juice from half a lemon or lime

1 fresh red chilli

2-3 garlic cloves

2 tbs of olive oil

2 tbs toasted salted pine nuts

2 small finely chopped shallots

1 tsp sesame oil (optional)

2 tbs of parsley (optional)

3 tbs tahini (optional)

Preparation

  • Grill the eggplants on an open fire turning them from time to time until their skin is soft (make sure not to puncture the skin when you do this)

  • Let the eggplants cool for a few minutes and then slowly remove the burnt skin from the flesh. If you need to grate the flesh from the skin make sure to use a wooden spoon as eggplant quickly reacts to a metal spoons

  • Drain the excess water and crush with a wooden spoon to avoid large chunks

  • Add chopped chilli, salt, fresh pepper, crushed garlic, olive oil, lemon/lime juice, shallots and other optional ingredients

  • Mix the ingredients together carefully  (if you are planning to add tahini sauce to this, which is optional, be sure the mixture has cooled down to room temperature first)

  • Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts (optional) and serve at room temperature

Note: This spread can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days and is served with bread.

 

Eggplant Pizza

Ingredients

2 large fresh eggplants

100g crumbed or sliced feta cheese

100g grated parmesan or grated hard goats cheese

1 cup of tomato paste

3 tbs olive oil (optional)

Salt (to taste)

Preparation

  • Peel the eggplants leaving the green top intact and maintaining their original shape
  • Slice the eggplants into large 1 cm thick slices

  • Lay the slices on a baking sheet and brush each one with a little olive oil and then season with a little salt

  • Bake in a warm oven (170C) for about 30 minutes flipping the slices once to assure the eggplant is dry, but not burnt

  • On each slice spread the tomato paste, lay the feta cheese crumbs  on top and sprinkle with parmesan or other grated hard cheese (of your choice)

  • Return the eggplant slices to the oven for approximately 5 minutes until cheese topping is brown

  • Remove from the oven, garnish and serve at room temperature

Thanks for letting me share these recipes with you!

 

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