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New Israeli Recipes: Eggplants Galore

Last week, Janna Gur, author of The Book of New Israeli Food, posted some insightful and entertaining stories about her book.  In light of this week’s holiday bonanza, Janna has graciously provided us with some of her new Israeli recipes to help spice up your meals. Enjoy, Jewcers!

Flame-Roasting Eggplants

Roasting eggplants on an open flame can be messy but is definitely worth the effort as the smoky aroma adds immensely to the taste.

First line your stovetop with aluminum foil. Place a whole eggplant (or more than one if you are confident) on a rack over the open flame and roast, turning occasionally, until the skin is scorched and blackened and the flesh feels soft when pierced with a wooden skewer or a fork. The eggplant can also be broiled in the oven, or grilled on a charcoal barbecue. Cool slightly  (to avoid burning your hands) and peel, carefully removing every last bit of scorched skin, or cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh with a wooden spoon.

Ideally, roasted eggplant should be served shortly after roasting, and seasoned while still warm to ensure optimal absorption of every spicy nuance. But if you need to store it for later, drain the roasted flesh of excess liquid, cover with oil and refrigerate. Season before serving.

Roasted Eggplant with Tahini

This classic combination always works. Use best quality tahini.

Add ½ cup raw tahini seasoned with 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 2-3 tablespoons chopped parsley, a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to the flesh of two roasted eggplants. If the mixture is too thick, add water gradually and stir to desired texture. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds or pine nuts before serving.

Roasted Eggplant with Pecans and Blue Cheese

This union of particularly strong flavors produces a delicious sandwich spread. Add about ½ cup crumbled blue (Roquefort style) cheese and ½ cup toasted chopped pecans to the flesh of two roasted eggplants.

Romanian-style Roasted Eggplant Salad

Don’t be alarmed by the amount of oil. The eggplants love it, and so do the Romanians.

Add ½ cup oil (the Romanians insist on strongly flavored sunflower oil, preferably unrefined), at least 3 cloves crushed garlic, salt and freshly ground black pepper to the flesh of two roasted eggplants. You may also add two grated onions and/or two peeled, grated tomatoes. To keep the texture pleasantly palatable rather than muddy, mix the oil with the other ingredients by stirring gently with a wooden spoon. 

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