Adding a smoky flavour to vegetables and other foods – garlic, eggplant, tomatoes, beetroot, tofu etc – adds an additional flavour dimension to dishes. It is worth doing for a special occasion. Today’s recipe is a Greek-inspired dish. I have added the instructions for smoking the foods in the recipe, but if you are not inclined to go to this effort, char-grill your veg in your normal, favourite way.
Similar recipes include
- Roasted Eggplant with Black Garlic-Yoghurt Sauce,
- Chermoula Eggplant with Bulgar and Yoghurt,
- Smoky Aubergine with Tomatoes and Sweet Peppers,
- Smoky Aubergine and Asparagus Salad,
- Lebanese Roast Potatoes and Eggplants,
- Baked Eggplant and Zucchini with Chickpeas, and
- Roasted Aubergine with Garlic Sauce.
Smoky Eggplants and Tomatoes
4 medium to small eggplants
8 ripe tomatoes
80ml extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, mashed
several stalks of Greek Oregano
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the charring of the tomatoes and eggplant I use a covered BBQ which is the best method that I know. You can also use the oven, grill or stove top flame. If using a covered BBQ, increase the smoky flavours by smoking the vegetables while cooking. Take a disposable foil pan and cover the bottom with about 0.5 cm of rice. Add some lemon or lime peel to the top and some thyme, bay leaves or other hard herb. Mix with a Tblspn of water. Place in the BBQ when hot, and leave until it begins smoking. This may take some time. At this smoking stage, add the vegetables to the BBQ quickly, and close the cover again. Leave the smoker in for about 10 minutes if it issmoking strongly, or longer if just smoking a little, then remove and continue cooking the vegetables. I kept it in the BBQ for the whole time for smoking the eggplant and tomatoes.
You can also use a tea-smoking mixture with equal parts tea-leaves and uncooked rice, and a drizzle of water to lessen the amount of smoke. Experiment with different tea flavours – try black, green, jasmine, Earl Grey or lapsang souchong. Add spices, too, such as star anise, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods and citrus rind. Some cooks also add brown sugar to their tea-smoking mixture. It’s not added for sweetness – it’s used to speed up the smoking process.
Another option is to use a wood fire, and place the vegetables directly onto the coals. Small Hibachi BBQs are good for this, as are the Asian and Middle Eastern small teracotta containers used to create wood fires for cooking in the open. Always be careful with open flames outdoors and check local restrictions.
rice, lime and bay leaf smoker pan ready for the BBQ
to make the salad
Char grill the eggplants using your favourite method and smoking technique, until the skin blackens. Cool and remove the skin.
Bake, grill or char the tomatoes as well. They can be cooked and smoked with the eggplants – I place them in another foil pan. Cool the vegetables and peel. Leave them whole for dramatic effect (leaving the tops on the eggplants), or cut the eggplant into long slices or soft cubes.
Make the dressing by mixing the oil with garlic, oregano (crush the leaves from the stalks and discard the stalks) and sea salt and pepper. Arrange the vegetables on a platter, and pour over the dressing. Serve and enjoy.