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turkish-style braised eggplant

July 8, 2019

Craving something sweet, healthy, and vegan?

1 large eggplant (about 1 pound)
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 large tomato, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
¼ cup raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
black pepper
½ cup roughly chopped dill
2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
pinch of sugar (optional) 1 teaspoon sugar (optional – the raisins make it very sweet!)
Thick yogurt, for serving
Lemon wedges, for serving

1. Trim ends off the eggplant. With a vegetable peeler, cut off alternating strips of skin. Cut eggplant into 1-inch cubes, place in a colander over a large bowl and toss with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to 3 hours, rinse well and squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible; do not break cubes up.

2. In a large skillet or saucepan, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the eggplant cubes and move them around occasionally, until they are rather tender and somewhat browned, about 7 minutes. Remove from the pan with tongs, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan. Set aside.

3. Add remaining oil to the pan with the onions and pine nuts and stir occasionally, until the onions are transparent and some pine nuts are lightly browned, 7 or 8 minutes.

4. Return eggplant to the pan with the tomato, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, cumin and pepper. Mix well, then turn heat to low. Cover the pan and cook until the eggplant is very tender but still in distinct pieces, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring once or twice, until the liquid is somewhat thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.

5. Remove the pan from heat and let sit uncovered until it is at room temperature, about 45 minutes. Stir in the dill and parsley, adjust the seasonings to taste and serve, accompanied by yogurt and lemon wedges for squeezing.

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recipe by John Willoughby at the NYT

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I am firmly in the camp of people who never bothers to pan-fry eggplant. Why pan-fry, wasting all that time, when the eggplant just absorbs the oil? This method definitely worked, although the “7 minute pan-fry” was more like 17. The raisins and pine nuts meld perfectly with the other flavors. I cheaped out and skipped the dill and parsley, and it was still good. You can replace the pine nuts with lightly smashed walnuts or even peanuts. Even just a pared-down version of this – pinch of sugar and raisins, tons of eggplant and onions, a few nuts, fresh tomato, cinnamon, and cumin – would be incredible.

The salt cure really extracts a lot of the bitterness, but then again, I used super fresh eggplant from the farmers market that was nowhere near as bitter as the supermarket stuff. I think next time I’ll just roast the eggplant. It’ll turn the dish into more of an eggplant dip than distinct cubes of eggplant, but who cares? It’s easy.

Ended up eating this throughout the week as a dip with crackers, and had no problem finishing the whole thing.

Adding this one to my favorite aubergine / eggplant recipes. If you like the kick of sweetness to balance out the bitterness of the eggplant, this is in the top 3 that I would recommend, along with sweet and sour Indian eggplant, or Georgian-style eggplant stuffed with carrot and parsnip

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2 comments

  1. Great post 🙂


  2. Looks like a very tasty dish



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