This Middle Eastern dish is delicious. When I make this recipe I eat it for just about every meal until it’s finished. The eggplant, tomatoes and flavourings work harmoniously together to create a unique taste that is just out of this world. You can serve this dish as a main or a side.
1 kg eggplant, cut into 1 cm thick slices
1/2 cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup (95gm) tomato paste
1/2 tsp saffron, threads or imitation powder
1 cup (250ml) verjuice* (or dry white wine)
1 red onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
250 gm grape, cherry or mini Roma tomatoes, halved
250 gm cherry truss tomatoes, quartered
1/8 cup (20gm) roasted pine nuts, plus extra to serve
1/8 cup (10gm) parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
salt and pepper, to taste
The combination of ingredients produces a delicious meal that everyone will enjoy
Once you have assembled your ingredients, pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Place the sliced eggplant into a large bowl or onto a tray and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle about half the oil over the eggplant.* Using your hands, spread the oil over the slices to coat. Then rub the tomato paste onto both sides of the eggplant pieces until they are all evenly covered.
Heat some of the oil in a heavy-based, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Cook the eggplant in batches for a few minutes on each side, or until they are tender and a nice golden colour. Transfer to a dish and cover with foil to keep warm.
Mix the saffron and verjuice together in a bowl and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in your pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and seasonings and cook for a few minutes, until the onion is soft.
Add the cumin and paprika to the onion and combine. Cook for another minute to allow the spices time to develop their flavours.
Stir the tomatoes into the onion mixture and allow them to cook for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the verjuice mixture to the pan and bring to a light simmer.
Layer the eggplant, tomatoes and cooking juices in a baking dish. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is a light golden colour.*
I like to serve this dish with couscous and sprinkled with a few more pine nuts and some extra parmesan cheese. This meal takes a substantial amount of time and effort to make but it is worth it. Plus, you will have plenty left over for meals during the week. It is nice reheated or served cold.
Enjoy this meal by itself or as an accompaniment
Verjuice is a bit pricey but it really is worth the expense. The flavour it adds to this dish is superb.
If you don’t want to use this much oil when preparing the eggplant, spray the slices with a little olive oil spray instead.
The eggplant needs to be cooked well in order to develop a beautiful creamy texture. When undercooked, eggplant tends to taste a bit tough and chewy.
I have discovered a trick to remove the bitterness from eggplant.
Slice it and pop on a tray, sprinkle with salt, leave for 30 minutes, wash off and pat dry and it is less tough and the bitterness is gone.