We adore eggplant (aubergine) in every form. It is so versatile and can add such complexity when it is cooked imaginatively. We find it to be a great substitute for meat in many dishes as it develops umami flavor when certain cooking methods are used.
This is a dish inspired by something similar we had in a simple taverna on one of our travels to the Middle East. You can serve it as a starter, a kind of salad / dip with some fresh baked bread or as a lunch main - it is delish!
1 medium eggplant per portion
2 tbsp tahini sesame paste
2 tbsp Opus oléa extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
juice of 1 small lemon
a little bit of water
small handful of pine kernels, lightly toasted
about half the amount of dried currants (raisins) that the pine kernels are
as many fresh dill fronds as you like
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Wash your eggplant and poke the skin with a knife in 3-4 places. Place in the hot oven on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes until it is all soft and cooked through.
While your eggplant is in the oven, take a medium size bowl (like a cereal bowl) and using a small whisk, combine the tahini, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. You will see that this mixture emulsifies a bit and becomes lighter in colour. Continue to mix it, potentially adding some water little by little, until it has a velvety, smooth consistency that is not too runny (meaning that if you drip a drop on a plate it will not spread out but hold together in a nice round, dome shape).
Lightly toast your pine kernels in a dry pan on a low heat. To do this heat the pan on a burner until it is warm but not scorching and place the raw pine kernels in. Move them around the pan with either a wood or silicone stirrer. They only need a minute or so, they are very delicate and burn easily, so please watch them with an eagle eye!
Remove the eggplant from the oven and let cool in a bowl covered with a plate (so it steams a little bit in its own juices) and until you can comfortably handle it with your bare hands. Use a sharp knife carefully peel off the outer skin leaving the stem part on. Set the eggplant aside.
To serve, use a spoon to drizzle circles with your tahini dressing around the middle of a plate. Place the cleaned eggplant on top of the tahini dressing and carefully smoosh it with the back of a large spoon so it spreads out nicely. Sprinkle your toasted pine kernels and your raisins over it and decorate with little fronds of fresh dill. Be sure you have some good bread handy to mop up all the different tastes. Eggplant heaven!
To buy Opus oléa extra virgin olive oil click here.