I have the Ottolenghi book Nopi, and have been determined to make something out of it if just to prove that a cookbook from a restaurant is not necessarily out of reach of someone who loves simple home cooking. While the recipes are a notch up from Ottolenghi’s other books, I enjoyed making this dish.
This really is a stunning dish. I mean, really very very good.
NOTE that this baked eggplant is so delicious, and could be used in a variety of ways. Bake the eggplant and top salads, use with pasta, remove the flesh and mix with yoghurt. Even in this recipe it won’t hold its shape once you begin to handle them, but don’t worry if they are a little mushier than expected. All the better to mop up with flatbreads.
There were substitutions necessary. For example, in my home town black garlic has not made it to my local shops. So after some research I made a substitute. I have played with some other subs too each time I have made this dish, depending on what is in the kitchen (but then I always tweak a recipe). I have used dried lime instead of lemon juice, and my home made chai powder instead of cocoa powder, even mulberry molasses instead of pomegranate molasses. Each sub worked really well. But I will show you the original recipe here, and you can adjust as you wish.
I also drain the yoghurt for a thicker product to rest the eggplants on.
I also add a few dried rosebuds (available from your Persian or Afghan shop) to the sauce when using regular harissa.
Roasted Aubergine with Awesome Garlic Sauce, Pine Nuts, Basil and Yoghurt
5 medium eggplants, trimmed
120ml olive oil, plus a little extra to serve
200g plain yoghurt
20g pine nuts, toasted
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g black garlic, or see how to make the substitute in the recipe below
1.5 tspn rose harissa or regular harissa paste
1 tspn pomegranate molasses
2.5 Tblspn lemon juice
0.25 tspn chilli flakes
0.25 cocoa powder
0.25 tspn salt
50 ml extra virgin olive oil
black garlic substitute
4 or 5 cloves of garlic that have been roasted, blended with either sweet balsamic, hoisin sauce or kepak manis, with umaboshi plum paste for umami flavour.
4 or 5 cloves of garlic that have been roasted, blended with raisins that have been soaked in a little balsamic. Add umaboshi plum paste for umami flavour.
roasted garlic, kepak manis, vin cotto, umaboshi plums and the tiniest amount of vinegar.
Preheat oven to 200C. Make the black garlic substitute if you are using.
Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, and again crosswise. Take each piece and cut into 3cm wedges. Toss the wedges with the 120ml olive oil, a generous amount of sea salt and some black pepper.
Place the wedges on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 40 mins until well cooked and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Place all of the dressing ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor and blitz for about 2 minutes until a very smooth paste is formed.
Place the eggplant into a large mixing bow and add the dressing. Stir very gently (use your hands is best) as you want the eggplant to be coated without disintegrating completely.
Leave for an hour or so if you can. During this hour, drain the yoghurt (this is an optional step, but I prefer to drain the yoghurt for a better result). Place it in a cheesecloth-lined sieve placed over a bowl, and cover the yoghurt with the cheesecloth. This step will thicken the yoghurt a little. After the hour, gently press the yoghurt and turn onto a plate. Discard the whey.
On a serving plate, spread the yoghurt out, arrange the aubergine on top and sprinkle with basil leaves and toasted pine nuts. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
recipe notes and alternatives
Wonderful eaten as a snack with flatbreads and a glass of wine.