Wednesday, October 31, 2007
One Vegetable, Five Spices / Un Légume, Cinq épices
What I like about farmer’s market is how people interact with each other and how it seems natural to talk to your next on line neighbor while filling your basket with lettuce and butternut squashes. There are individuals who come in early wearing tennis shoes and a cap and a big smile on their face, and those who live right across the street who come pulling their kids in green wooden carts, and there are those who come around noon, holding a mug of coffee and chatting with producers that have some free sample to offer.
Me? I am the type of person who arrives at 10, with my huge red and beige wicker basket (which can be practical to make my way through the crowded market) and my hubby pulling our daughter’s stroller. You will find me carrying two wallets: a small one for change, in my rear Jean’s pocket and the bigger one inside my basket. And yes, you will find me by the chestnut cheesecake and brownies samples too or by the eggplant stand trying to share some "coherent" recipes with some eggplant debutants.
I said: “coherent” because I just don’t know how to explain recipes orally. Not that I don’t know how to speak: “Hi, how are you? Pleasure to meet you.” I know all of that!
But when it comes to giving recipes I always get carried away by the excitement of the fruit/vegetable in question and find myself trying to explain 2 or 3 recipes to a poor lady that just wanted to know how do I cook my eggplant. But she is too polite the lady; she doesn’t dare asking me to stop. She even thanks me and keeps asking me questions although I can see that her right eye is looking at me and the left one is looking elsewhere, for somebody to drag her away from me.
Then I’ll go all smiles to my husband who was waiting for me at the corner, and who asks me: “how many recipe did you give her?”
“ I don’t know, may be three! Too bad I didn’t have a paper and a pen to write it all down for her. Oh but wait!! I completely forgot to give her the spicy eggplant recipe that you love so much. You think I should go and give it to her quickly? She is still there by the tomatoes stand!”
“Oh no! I think she’s had enough”, he replies joking.
This is indeed my hubby’s favorite way of enjoying eggplant and I promise to explain it to you calmly.
Eggplant Zaalouk is an Algerian dish, served as an appetizer or a side dish to Lamb Kebabs.
The traditional eggplant Zaalouk is prepared by frying the eggplant flesh with tomatoes, onions, garlic, cumin and paprika. It’s also called Eggplant Caviar in Europe.
My version has more spices and the eggplant is cubed and broiled with some olive oil. Toasting the spices in a pan is very important to have a fragrant, smoky finished dish. I used ground cumin but whole cumin would work as well. Sometimes I add to it roasted, cubed zucchini, when in season, and roasted, diced red and green peppers. It is Delicious warm, nestled inside a piece of bread and even better tomorrow, straight from the fridge.
- 1 eggplant, peeled or not, and diced
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves (I used Diana's and Dick German Extra Hardy) - 1 tsp caraway powder
- ½ tsp sweet paprika (paprika goes bad very quickly. check for date and keep it in a dark, cool place)
- 2 tomatoes, peeled and diced
- ½ tsp freshly ground coriander seeds
- ½ tsp freshly ground cumin powder
- A tiny pinch of cinnamon
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt, freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- Olive oil for baking
Put the eggplant cubes in a colander. Sprinkle with generous amount of kosher salt and let it sweat at least 30 min. Sweating the eggplant removes the bitterness of the eggplants. If you're using Japanese, thin eggplant, there is no need to sweat the eggplant. Rinse the eggplants and pat dry really well with a clean kitchen towel. Heat your oven at 400F.
Arrange the eggplant in a baking sheet. Drizzle with some olive oil, until every cube is well lubricated and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bake until the eggplant cubes become golden brown and tender, about 20 min.
Meanwhile, heat a non-stick pan on medium heat. Add caraway powder, paprika, coriander seeds, cumin powder and the cinnamon. Stir the spices in the pan, using a wooden spoon until they become very fragrant. Pour over the tbsp of olive oil, diced tomatoes and minced garlic. Cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes on medium-low heat. Add the eggplant cubes (and other vegetables if using. See note below) and toss them so they get evenly coated with all the spices and the olive oil. Add some olive oil if needed and continue cooking and tossing for 2 minutes.
Sprinkle the cilantro leaves on top of the eggplant and season with salt and pepper if needed. Toss and plate.
Serve warm with some bread to mop all the goodness.
Note: If using zucchini, red peppers and green peppers, broil the peppers by themselves until the skin gets blistered. Peel, dice and set aside. As for the zucchini, bake them along with the eggplants and continue with the recipe as mentioned above.
Aubergine Zaalouk Grillée
In francais please:
- 1 aubergine, coupée en dés
- 2 gousses d’ail moyennes, finement haché
- 1 c.c de carvi en poudre
- ½ c.c de paprika
- ½ c.c de graines de coriandre
- ½ c.c de cumin en poudre
- 1 toute petite pincée de cannelle
- 1 c.s d’huile d’olive
- Sel, poivre fraichement moulu
- 2 c.s de feuilles de coriandre, finement ciselées
- Huile d’olive pour griller
Mettre les cubes d’aubergine dans une passoire. Saupoudrer généreusement de gros sel et laisser dégorger au moins 30 min. Rinser-les sous l’eau du robinet et sécher a l’aide d’une serviette de cuisine propre. Préchauffer le gril de votre four a 225C.
Disposer les cubes d’aubergine en une seule couche dans un grand plat allant au four. Verser de l’huile d’olive dessus pour bien les lubrifier. Assaisonner légerement de sel, poivre et mettre a 20cm sous le gril. Laisser cuire jusqu’a ce que les cubes deviennent dorées et tendres.
Entre temps, faites chauffer une poele antiadhesive. Mettre dedans carvi, cumin, paprika, graines de coriandre et cannelle. Faites chauffer sur feu doux, en remuant a l’aide d’une cuil en bois jusqu’a ce que vous puissiez sentir tous les épices. Ajouter la c.s d’huile d’olive, puis l’ail tout en continuant de remuer. Ajouter dessus les cubes d’aubergine et faites sauter afin d’imprégner les cubes des toutes les epices. Laisser cuire encore 2 min sans cesser de remuer. Attention a ne pas réduire vos aubergine en purée.
Mettre les feuilles de coriandre sur les aubergines. Faites sauter une derniere fois et servir dans un plat.
Servir tiede avec une portion génereuse de pain.
Other eggplant recipes and spicy appetizers:
- Stuffed eggplant rolls
- Chermoula and Calamari