My best friend, the Bringer of Produce, has again gifted me with fresh food. Which means that I've had it staring at me to cook it for too long now. And seeing as how I'm about to leave for Colorado again, I should probably cook it. You know, before it glares at me with its rotten eyes. This is also the perfect opportunity to try a cookbook that I've had on my shelves. It's called Arabesque. Beautiful book, but not one you may have ingredients handy for. Unless you're me and you pick up things like pomegranate molasses on a whim. I had no idea what I'd use it for. Now that I've got two eggplants, I've got a plan for adventure.
If you've never had pomegranate molasses, here's the scoop. It's a syrup obviously deriving it's flavor from the fruit juice itself. While not quite as thick as traditional molasses, it has a clingy consistency but is still easy to pour. The flavor is sharp and tangy like the fruit, and can easily be sweetened up for dessert or used in a savory dish like this.
I'm not sure where I first encountered eggplant or why I remember liking it even though I've made several recipes with it that turned bad. I am reminded again though while roasting them because they smell like heaven. Not something I'd usually associate with this particular vegetable, but my whole apartment smells like green, fresh, satisfying food. I've really missed that.
I think my eggplants were too ripe when I cooked them, so instead of cubes of mushy vegetable, I got something more like eggplant hummus.
The only cure for this, of course, is to toast a bit of bread. I used less olive oil and probably less lemon juice than was called for but it still tastes tangy and... eggplanty. It's nothing spectacular, but it's one of those things that you eat like this: "Well, it's not really that great. I'll just take one more bite. Nom nom nom nom. Hey... where'd it all go?"
Oh yeah. And the recipe calls for fresh, flat-leafed parsley.
Ahem. Moving on.
Eggplant with Pomegranate Molasses
Serves 4 to 6
2 to 3 eggplants (weighing about 2 pounds)
juice of 1 lemon
1 T pomegranate molasses
1 to 2 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and black pepper
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T chopped flat-leaf parsley
seeds of 1/2 pomegranate (optional)
Prick the eggplants in a few places with a pointed knife to prevent them from exploding. Place them on a sheet of foil on an oven tray and roast them in an oven preheated to 475F for 45 to 55 minutes, until the skins are wrinkled and they are very soft.
When cool enough to handle, peel and drop them in a colander or strainer with small holes. Press them very gently to allow their juices to run out. Then, on a serving plate, cut them into large pieces and dress them quickly so that the flesh does not have time to discolor.
Mix them lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil, pour over the eggplants, and turn them to coat them all over with the dressing. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley and, if you like, pomegranate seeds.