Serves:6 as an appetizer; 4 as side dish |
Prep Time:20 minutes |
Cook Time:35 minutes
I saw a recipe called Eggplant with Preserved Lemon in the SF Chronicle food section and thought, hmmm, that combination sounds really good. I always have preserved lemons hanging around because they’re easy to make (as long as you plan ahead). So I made the eggplant and, hmmm, the flavors were good, but the texture wasn’t right: the eggplant was roasted and mashed, sort of like baba ghanoush, but I love roasted eggplant with the skin. So I made it again with roasted cubes and, hmmm, it was great, but the amount was a little chintzy. Then I made it a third time with one roasted/mashed eggplant and one roasted/cubed eggplant and it was off the charts! Along the way I discovered that you don’t have to add the preserved lemon if you don’t have any. This can be served as an appetizer scooped up with seeded crackers or as a crostini topping, as a side dish with roasted lamb or chicken, or as a pita filler with roasted red bell pepper and sliced feta cheese. You can find preserved lemons at a well-stocked grocery store or Middle Eastern market, or you can make them with a little planning ahead.
2 large Italian eggplants, about 1 lb each
good olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 to 1/2 of a whole preserved lemon, optional
seeded crackers or toasted baguette slices, optional
parsley for garnish
Preheat an oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. With a fork, pierce one of the eggplants in several places. Place pierced eggplant on one of the baking sheets. Cut the other eggplant into 1-inch cubes, discarding stem (do not peel). In a bowl, toss eggplant cubes with enough olive oil to coat, about 3 tablespoons. Sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and toss again. Spread the cubes on the other baking sheet. Place both baking sheets in the oven and roast until the skin of the whole eggplant is wrinkled and the flesh has almost collapsed (to test, pierce eggplant with a skewer) and the cubes are golden brown and fragrant, about 35 minutes each. Remove each sheet of eggplant from the oven when it is done and set aside to cool slightly.
When the whole eggplant is just cool enough to handle, cut off the stem, then pull off the skin (use a knife if it sticks in places). Put flesh in a bowl and mash roughly with a fork. Squeeze juice from half the lime over the eggplant, add the cumin and 2 tablespoons of olive oil; stir well. Stir in eggplant cubes, then season to taste with salt and adjust seasonings for more lime juice and/or oil if desired. If using preserved lemon, finely chop the skin and flesh from a quarter-lemon and stir into the eggplant; taste and add more preserved lemon if desired.
To serve as an appetizer, mound the mixture (warm or at room temperature) into a serving dish, garnish with parsley and serve with crackers. Or spoon onto toasted baguette slices and garnish each with a parsley leaf to serve as crostini.
As a side dish, serve eggplant while still warm.