Baked eggplant lends itself to many Middle Eastern dishes. In Persian cooking, however, it is combined with a myriad of ingredients from fresh chopped mint to ground walnuts. In our version, we spiked it with fresh herbs and fresh diced tomato to appeal to the eye as well as the taste buds.
2 medium eggplants, about 1 1/4 lb (550 g) each
Juice of 1 large lemon
3 Tbsp (45 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large onions, sliced
1 Tbsp (15 mL) brown sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) turmeric
1 bunch fresh basil, washed and finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh mint, finely chopped
2 firm red tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped fresh walnuts
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Sprig of mint
Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
Place eggplants directly on oven rack and roast slowly until outer skin begins to collapse and they’re uniformly soft on all sides, about 45 to 50 minutes. Turn a couple of times with tongs for even roasting. When they’re sagging and soft, you’ll know they’re ready. Remove very carefully from oven and wait until cool enough to handle. Slit in half and scoop out the insides and mash in bowl. Stir in lemon juice and set aside to cool to room temperature.
While eggplant is baking, heat 1 Tbsp (15 mL) oil in large, deep frying pan. Add onions and sauté over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring often. They should be soft and begin to turn a lovely golden colour. Sprinkle with sugar and turmeric and sauté, stirring often, for a further 5 to 10 minutes or until nicely caramelized. Remove, set aside and cool.
When onions have cooled, chop half of them and add to cooled eggplant along with remaining ingredients except for 1 Tbsp (15 mL) oil and sprig of mint. Gently fold together. Taste and add more salt and pepper if you wish. Transfer to serving bowl.
Spoon remaining caramelized onion on top and garnish with sprig of mint. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp (15 mL) oil just before serving. Serve with side dish of thick plain yogurt and sangak bread.
Each serving contains: 89 calories; 4 g protein; 10 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 18 g total carbohydrates (10 g sugars, 7 g fibre); 299 mg sodium
source: "Persian Cuisine", alive #377, March 2014
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