This recipe was adapted from one of my favourite cookbooks, Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. Israeli born with distinct Middle-Eastern influences, Ottolenghi won over vegetarians and meat-eaters alike with his long-running column, The New Vegetarian in The Guardian. He found himself in hot water towards the beginning, often suggesting the recipes would go perfectly as the accompaniment to various meat dishes. My often-vegetarian-sometimes-meat-eater friend who suggested it to me said she read the entire thing before realising that it was completely sans animal. This is the first recipe I have officially made from Plenty, and there will be many more to come.
I haven’t followed the recipe exactly, and although I’m sure expertly crafted by Ottolenghi’s team, it is actually a fairly “to taste” affair, where you can add and subtract as you please. I also doubled the recipe to feed my New Year’s Eve guests.
- 2 large eggplants
- 1 cup tahini paste
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1/2 a punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
- 2 Lebanese cucumbers (optional to serve)
- Seeds from 1 large Pomegranate
- Salt & black pepper
- Olive oil to finish
- The recipe recommended putting the eggplant over the top of a gas burner with foil around the base to protect it. To be honest, I have no idea what this means, and as I had access to a perfectly good barbecue outside I figured this would be less fuss. The eggplant should be burnt, so I left it on until the beautiful aubergine colour turned brown and the skin split.
- Scrape the soft flesh away from the skin and into a large mixing bowl. Mash with a fork to your desired texture, I like it with some chunks intact.
- Add the tahini, water, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
- To serve, I used the same bowl and scattered pomegranate seeds and molasses over the top, as well as a little olive oil. I then chopped slivers of the cucumbers and arranged them around the base as dipping devices.