This smoky eggplant caviar can be served with other Middle Eastern-inspired starters or as a side for grilled meat or fish, in which case double the quantities. For once, I’m counting on you to properly char your eggplants and not remove them from the oven too soon, even if your neighbours smell something burning!
- 6 large eggplants, preferably round Sicilian ones
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
- 1 bunch mint
- 5 lemons
- 6 large pink garlic cloves
- 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp light tahini
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp sumac
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Seeds of 1 pomegranate
1Preheat the oven to the highest possible temperature on fan setting.
2Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Wash the eggplants, pierce them in several places with the tip of a paring knife, and set them whole on the baking sheet. Roast them for about 30 minutes, turning them over two or three times during cooking.
3While the eggplants are cooking, wash and dry the parsley and mint, and chop the leaves finely. Grate the zest of two of the lemons into a bowl, juice all five lemons, and combine the juice and zest.
4Once the eggplants are well charred, remove them from the oven. When they are cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthwise and scrape out the flesh with a spoon, discarding any bits of skin. Place the flesh in a strainer for at least 10 minutes to let excess liquid drain out. Meaty Sicilian eggplants contain very little water so they do not need to drain for long, but other varieties may need to be left in the strainer for up to 30 minutes.
5Transfer the eggplant flesh to a large salad bowl. Peel the garlic, removing the germs, crush, and add with the lemon juice and zest, olive oil, tahini, parsley, mint, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper and mix with a fork for a good 5 minutes until well combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
6Just before serving, stir in the sumac, top with the pomegranate seeds (if using), and enjoy.
Extracted from Enjoy: Recipes for Memorable Gatherings by Perla Servan-Schreiber (Flammarion, 2020).