Yotam Ottolenghi is a food genius as far as I am concerned. His ability to create an alchemy of flavour with ingredients is something I find very inspiring. His recipes do however sometimes require quite a number of ingredients – some of them unusual (which means you will often have to go searching for something you previously had never heard of). But it is this -for me- that makes cooking with his recipes so interesting.
Take for example the rice dish that I’ve blogged about previously that uses Iranian dried lime. It took a while to search out where I could buy these, and afterwards I realised it was these strange little things they made the dish so unusual and delicious, and had me searching for other recipes to use them.
And so it is with this recipe – black garlic. What a strange ingredient, it taste almost liquorice like. Nothing like garlic at all. I had never heard of this ingredient before I discovered this recipe but it was actually really easy to find … I found that my local Woolworths was stocking it. But don’t worry if you can’t find it – pomegranate molasses is a good substitute (add 1-2 tsp).
I first tried this dish a while ago on a quick trip to London at one Ottolenghi’s cafes. I ordered a plate of salad that blew me away – not least because of the cost which was expensive (but hey that is London for you) but mostly, it blew me away because of the flavours. I loved it all, and the beetroot ricotta was a close second, but my favourite salad on the plate was the aubergine (eggplant) and once I got home I set about trying to re-create it.
I researched and experimented and came up with something close but it wasn’t until Ottolenghi’s cookbook ‘Plenty More’ was published, that I found that he kindly published the recipe 👍. Although I followed recipe to the letter, it didn’t quite turn out the same as I remembered, so I have tweaked it slightly. Use your favourite green leafy herb along with the dill – Yotam’s recipe uses basil and tarragon but coriander or mint also work well.
There is a lot to love about this eggplant dish, most of all is the method for baking the eggplant which circumvents having to fry in copious amounts of oil. Genius!
3 medium aubergine (eggplants)
1/4 cup olive oil and 60mls for yogurt dressing
Sea salt and black pepper
200g tub Greek yogurt
1 tsp lemon juice
4 cloves of black garlic (or substitute with 1-2 tsp pomegranate molasses)
1 handful basil and coriander (see note above) roughly torn
1 tblspn dill roughly chopped
1-2 red chillies – sliced diagonally
4 cloves of normal garlic – thinly sliced
1. Line a baking tray with baking paper and cut the eggplant into 1.5cm slices.
2. Mix 1/4 cup oil with 1 tsp sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a bowl. Give it a stir and then dip the eggplant into the oil mixture to lightly coat. Place each slice on baking tray and spend them out evenly.
3. Bake at 250c/480F until golden brown. This could take between 30-45mins. Remove from oven and leave to cool.
4. Meanwhile make the yogurt dressing. Chop roughly first, then squash the black garlic with the back of your knife so that the garlic is like a paste. In the small bowl of a food processor place the yogurt, 30mls olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and the black garlic paste. Give it a whizz until smooth and place in the fridge until ready to assemble.
5. Place a little oil in a saucepan and quickly fry the chilli and normal garlic slices until crispy but not burnt and place them on some kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.
6. To assemble, drizzle the yogurt dressing over the eggplant. Sprinkle over the fried chilli and garlic, and scatter over the chopped herbs. Serve at room temperature.
Serves 4-6 as part of a mezze / tapas / side dish