This is one of those dishes that proves itself right away and becomes a household regular in the first bite. It’s true luxury in food form. The aromatic burnt eggplant, mixed simply with tahini and fresh pomegranate and lemon once again proves that the Mediterranean Sea is the epicenter for the best, healthiest, most amazing foods. Burnt eggplant with tahini is the perfect dip, sauce or spread for a weekend snack or your next dinner party.
My grandfather, among many other things, grows a lot of produce on his property. He always shows up with an armful of treats; sometimes its wine, sometimes it’s fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, peppers, zucchini and eggplants. Sometimes it’s a table, made from scratch, or beef jerky, or news of his latest YouTube updates for how to make grappa. Recently it was an entire grandfather clock he had made. If you look closely, engraved on a delicate gold plate on the clock, there’s the punchline to a hilarious joke that has circulated amongst close family and friends for as long as I can remember in my 27 years of existence.
We wanted to do something worthwhile with the produce, so my mom pulled out this recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, a marvelous testament to the beauty of fresh vegetables. The recipe requires burning the eggplant and then draining it, so we did that at night, and then quickly whipped this together for lunch the next day. I had to take my own fork away and wrap this dish up extra tightly, because it was so good I could have eaten the whole thing. I would like to make this again this weekend.
My version of this recipe leaves out the pomegranate molasses, since I don’t have any in my kitchen, and I’m guessing you don’t either. The smoky flavor of the eggplant is what really shines through, balanced every once in a while by a fresh burst of pomegranate, and of course all held together by the wonderful, nutty flavor of rich tahini.
It was easy to make, and the outcome far exceeded the expectations. Fall is when pomegranate season kicks into full swing, and eggplant harvest is at its prime, so there’s no time like the present. You can serve this burnt eggplant with tahini with pita or chips, on a crostini, or as a sauce / side to some fresh fish, lamb, or chicken with rice. This can be made one day ahead, but be sure to serve it at room temperature.
- 1 large eggplant (don't use baby, they are too bitter)
- 1/3 cup tahini paste
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more
- 1 large clove garlic, grated
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- Seeds from 1/2 large pomegranate
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more
- Sea salt and black pepper
- See blog post for what to serve with this dish.
- First, burn the eggplant. Turn on a gas stove to a medium-low flame. Place the eggplant directly on the flame, and roast for about 12-15 minutes. Be sure to turn the eggplant frequently with tongs, and be sure it doesn't catch fire. By the end, the skin should be completely burnt, and the eggplant should be soft and "deflated." Allow to cool for a few minutes, and peel the skin off and discard. Place the eggplant in a colander to drain for 30 minutes, or wrap in foil for overnight, refrigerate, and come back to the project the next day. The eggplant will naturally drain by then.
- To make the dip, simply mix all of the ingredients (except half of the pomegranate seeds) together in a bowl. Adjust the seasonings if you need, I added a touch more lemon and salt to mine. You want a smoky, fresh, well-balanced flavor.
- To serve, garnish with the other half of the pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of olive oil and crack of fresh pepper. Serve at room temperature!