I am now a former eggplant/aubergine hater. I won’t say that I like it in all its various applications, but I have recently found a few methods of preparation of which my palate approves. The eggplant dish I prepared today was much more than tolerably acceptable. It was absolutely delicious!
I cut the aubergines into spirals by first piercing them through with the sharpened end of an artist’s large (#24) paintbrush.
I then worked my way around the fruit cutting on a diagonal with a sharp knife. I heeded the common advice to salt the eggplant to remove any bitterness. Not only was that unnecessary, it resulted in the dish almost being too salty because I neglected to wipe off the salted surfaces.
I put together a combination of herbs and spices, building on the basic concept of the spice mixture known as za’atar. I used:
- sesame seeds
- dried red chilis (arbol)
- cumin seeds
- kalonji seeds (nigella)
- kosher salt
In a dry pan I toasted the cumin seeds, red chilis, kalonji seeds and sesame seeds, then coarsely ground the roasted spices with kosher salt using a mortar and pestle. All the spices and herbs were mixed together in olive oil and applied to the inside surfaces of the eggplant spirals.
I baked the aubergines at 400ºF for 40 minutes, then inserted shredded Asiago cheese mixed with sumac into the cuts and baked for another 5 minutes.
This dish will definitely be on the menu again.