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
- 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.