Tag Archives: Eggplant

ROASTED EGGPLANT SOUP

You may be wondering at the plethora of eggplant-featuring posts lately.  Well, the story is that I went to the market a bit over a week ago, intending to buy just one wee kilo of eggplants.  But I ended up at a stall manned by a boy far too young to be working (as is the case too often in this part of the world), and he very enthusiastically proclaimed that, for the equivalent of about $1.30, he would sell me 5 kilos of eggplant.  That is 11 pounds, for those of you stuck in America’s silly measurement system.  It takes a long time and a lot of dishes for two people to eat 11 pounds of eggplant!  But partly out of pity and partly because I do really like eggplant, I went ahead and bought it, carrying home a black plastic bag with nearly a dozen eggplants inside.

We have finally finished them off, and I must admit I am not likely to buy another eggplant for a week or two.  But when I do, this soup will be very high on my list of considerations.  The idea of an eggplant soup had never crossed my mind until I read about it on Smitten Kitchen.  The original recipe, adapted from Bon Appetit, can be found there, along with Deb’s humorous account of trying to elicit taste memories from her mother.  Following her spice dilemma, I decided to take the basic idea and Middle Eastern-ize the recipe a bit.  I was very, very pleased with the final product, and even more pleased when Hungry Husband, who is generally ambivalent when it comes to soup, declared it very tasty.

ROASTED EGGPLANT SOUP

  • 3 medium tomatoes, halved
  • Eggplant totally about 1 ½ pounds, halved
  • 1 medium onion, halved
  • Olive oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ tsp. cumin
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • ¼ c. plain yoghurt
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ c. crumbled feta, to garnish

Preheat oven to 400F.  On a roasting pan/cookie sheet/whatever you use, arrange the halved vegetables and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.  Remove from the oven, scoop the eggplant flesh out of the skin (but if you leave a little of the skin attached, that will add a nice smoky flavor) and put in a large soup pot.  Add the tomatoes, onion, cumin and broth and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 45 minutes or until the onion is soft, then remove from heat and let cool slightly.

About 5 minutes before you think the soup will be done simmering, heat the vegetable oil in a small frying pan.  When it is hot, add the garlic, coriander and salt and fry briefly, stirring constantly, until the aroma rises but the garlic has not browned.  Throw this into the soup for the last few minutes of simmering.

When the soup is sufficiently cool, blend it according to the method of your choosing (with an immersion blender or in batches in a stand blender) to your desired consistency.  Return to the soup pot and reheat, adding salt and pepper to taste.  After turning off the heat, add the yoghurt and stir to blend thoroughly.  Serve with crumbled feta cheese to garnish.

Side note: this soup was also really tasty cold the next day, when I felt too lazy to reheat it.

Side note #2: I also added a wee bit of tahini (sesame seed paste) to the leftovers and that was a very lovely addition.  If you wanted to include it, in the full batch I’d suggest adding 2 Tbsp. along with the yoghurt.

Advertisements

FIX THIS: ROASTED VEGETABLE MOUSSAKA

I am continuing on in the world of eggplant, although maybe it is no longer eggplant season in America.  Meh.  It seems like it is always eggplant season in the Middle East, so if your world is now devoid of glorious purple orbs, give a little sigh and bookmark for next year any future recipes that seem interesting.

I’m not sure I’d recommend this be a recipe you rush to come next August, although I think it has potential.  It’s from a cookbook called Perfect Mediterranean, one of those little cookbooks that probably has companion versions like Perfect Italian and Perfect Asian.  I think this book concentrates very heavily on the north Mediterranean coast, and this moussaka is definitely closer to the Greek versions than any of the Arab versions I have ever had.

We liked this dish okay but I would make a few changes next time.  My main complaint was that the sauce-to-vegetable ratio was way off; you can see from the pictures the difference between my dish and the cookbook.

In the book...

In my kitchen.

The pieces of vegetable were also annoying large to me, so I’d probably go for chunks rather than slices.  I am going to give you the recipe as is but would suggest doubling the sauce.  I also would add more garlic, because I like garlic, but I would add it to the roasting pan halfway through the process, as leaving it the whole time resulted in burnt garlic.  And I might add potatoes, which are often part of the Arab moussaka, to give it a little more substance.  What would you try to improve this dish?

ROASTED VEGETABLE MOUSSAKA

(from Perfect Mediterranean, Parragon 2008)

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced thickly
  • 2 med. zucchini, sliced thickly
  • 2 onions, cut into small wedges
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped coarsely
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped coarsely
  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ¼ c. strained plain yoghurt
  • 14 oz. canned chopped tomatoes in juice (I used fresh tomatoes)
  • 2 oz. feta cheese

Put the eggplant, zucchini, onions, bell peppers, and garlic in a roasting pan.  Drizzle over the oil, toss together, and then sprinkle over the thyme and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in a preheated oven, 425 F/220 C, for 3-35 minutes, turning the pan halfway through the cooking, until golden brown and tender.

Meanwhile, beat together the eggs and yoghurt and season with salt and pepper.  When the vegetables are cooked, reduce the oven temperature to 350 F/180 C.

Put half the vegetables in a layer in a large ovenproof dish.  Spoon over the tomatoes and their juice, then add the remaining vegetables.  Pour over the yoghurt mixture and crumble over the feta cheese.  Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until golden brown.  Serve hot, warm, or cold.

SWEET-AND-SOUR EGGPLANT SALAD

Here I am, back with yet another recipe that brings together the tasty trio of eggplant, tomatoes and pomegranate molasses.  It is also one of those dishes that, as its name implies, is a Side Dish, but that with just a little help can become a nice light main course.

This is not my own recipe, but is taken from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Rodin.  This cookbook will show up frequently here, as I have only it and one other cookbook.  Really, I prefer to try and learn cooking from my neighbors, but I am thankful for people like Ms. Rodin who have put the time and energy into researching, testing, revising, and finally writing cookbooks.  It must be a very daunting job, particularly when trying to cover a topic as broad as “Middle Eastern Food.”  My own time in this region has shown that the same dish may have six or seven different names, or that one name may be applied to six or seven different dishes.  And let’s not even get started on the babaghanouj vs. mutabbal debate.

SWEET-AND-SOUR EGGPLANT SALAD

  • 1 1/2 lb. eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2-5 cloves garlic, chopped (okay, the recipe only calls for 2 cloves of garlic, but I really like garlic and think it’s nice to add more)
  • 1 lb. tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I didn’t peel and it turned out fine for me)
  • 4 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. dried mint
  • 3 Tbsp. wine vinegar OR 2-3 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses (trust me, the pomegranate molasses is the better option here)
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • Pepper or a good pinch ground chili pepper to taste

Sprinkle the eggplant cubes with salt and leave in a colander for about 1/2 hour for the juices to drain away.  Then rinse and dry.

Cover the bottom of a heavy pan with olive oil.  Fry the onion in this until it is soft and golden.  Add the eggplants, and stir, turning them over, for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and stir, until it begins to color.  Add the tomatoes, with their juice, the parsley, mint, vinegar/pomegranate molasses, sugar, and pepper/chili pepper.  Cook over very low heat for about 20 minutes, or until the eggplants are soft.  Serve cold.

My notes: This tastes pretty good hot, too.  To turn this into a main course, I add about 1 lb. of cooked chickpeas for the final few minutes of cooking, and I serve the salad over a bed of toasted Arabic bread, which soaks up the delicious sauce.

EGGPLANT WITH SWEET-AND-SOUR TOMATO SAUCE

I got some very distressing news today, courtesy of Agrigirl‘s latest post on her family’s revolt against eating eggplant.  Apparently, eggplant is very low in nutritional value.  I have loved eggplant for a long, long time and always felt proud of having it in my regular vegetable routine, especially now that I’ve found so many wonderful Middle Eastern ways to prepare it, so it was very sad to me that it may just be the purple equivalent of iceberg lettuce. I’m still going to eat it, though…

Coupled with this recent article from The New York Times, which has got me in a tizzy about whether or not I eat enough vegetables, today was one of those throw-my-hands-in-the-air-and-say-WHO-CARES sorts of moments.  Trying to stay on top of all the pronouncements regarding healthy eating is enough to make me think about giving up food entirely.  Fortunately I had a chocolate bar in the refrigerator, which brought me back to my senses.

EGGPLANT WITH SWEET-AND-SOUR TOMATO SAUCE

  • 1 large eggplant or 2 medium (about 1 kilo/2lbs. total), sliced about 1/2″ thick
  • Olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • 1 1/2 lbs. tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I used pre-peeled and chopped, because my skin has developed a sensitivity to tomato juice recently)
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar (the original recipe called for red wine or white wine vinegar, but I used plain white and it seemed fine to me)
  • 2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
  • Chili pepper to taste (I used one fresh green chili pepper, very finely diced)
  • 1/3 c. parsley (I didn’t use this because I was not in a parsley mood)
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Broil your eggplant in a 400F oven, turning once so that it browns on both sides.  When done, remove from the oven and let cool.
  2. In a large pan, fry the garlic (and if you’re using fresh diced pepper, put it in now as well) until aromatic.  Add the remaining ingredients (except parsley) and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced to a thick sauce.  Turn off heat, adjust seasonings, and let cool.
  3. To serve, pour the sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with parsley.