26 February 2010

Middle Eastern Roasted Eggplant

  • 2 large eggplants, washed and diced
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Red onion, thinly sliced into rings
  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 head garlic, unpeeled, cloves separated
  • 1 bunch of fresh marjoram, on stems, washed
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl season the diced eggplant with one tablespoon of salt, mix and let sit as you prepare the rest of the dish. Thinly slice the red onion and place in a large roasting pan. Toss in cherry tomatoes to the pan, add the diced eggplant and fresh majoram and coat in the olive oil. Add more olive oil if need be...you want a generous amount in the pan...about a quarter of an inch high. Add the remaining salt, pepper, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes and stir so that the spices evenly coat the veggies. Last add the individual garlic cloves to the pan - unpeeled, push them down into the mix so that they are coated and covered. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 45 minutes - when you can really smell the mixture roasting. Take pan out of the oven, juice the 1/4 lemon over the mixture, give it a good stir and place back into the oven for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven-the vegetables should be very, very soft. Carefully (because the pan and mixture will be hot) fish out each of the unpeeled garlic cloves. The inside of the cloves will be very soft. Using your fingers, squeeze the cloves into the roasting pan, discarding the skins (or putting them in your frozen bag of veggie ends to make stock in the future!). You can either let the cloves cool or use gloves to handle them so you don't get burned. Place the pan on top of the stove and turn the heat up to medium high heat. Stir the mixture vigorously with a heavy spoon, breaking up the cherry tomatoes and incorporating the roasted garlic, about 4-5 minutes. Add the sesame seeds and stir into the mixture, let cook for another 3-5 minutes, stirring vigorously to make sure nothing burns to the bottom of the pan.

Either serve the mixture hot as a side dish or as a main dish with rice or soft bread. This mixture can also be served well cold as a dip with crackers or as a spread for bread.

NOTE: This is a delicious and healthful dish that is very easy to make, using an interpretation of the Middle Eastern spice mixture known as Za'atar.

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