Charred whole eggplant with crushed tomatoes, basil and mint

By Eden Grinshpan
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Bring the flavour to the side dish table with this recipe. 

SERVES
6

Ingredients

Garlicky Tahini

  • 1 cup tahini
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Eggplants

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon za'atar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup Garlicky Tahini
  • 1 tablespoon Red Zhug
  • 2/3 cup basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup mint leaves
  • Flaky sea salt, for garnish
  • Thick slices of sourdough, challah or pita, for serving

Directions

Garlicky Tahini

  1. In a bowl, mix together the tahini with the grated garlic, lemon juice, salt, and ice water. Mix until just combined. 
  2. Set aside for serving. 

Eggplants 

  1. With the tip of your knife, pierce each eggplant in two places-it doesn't need to be perfect or in the same place every time; this is just so the eggplant doesn't explode on you.
  2. Pick a cooking method for the eggplant: grill, broiler, or stovetop burners. The bottom line is that you want this eggplant to be almost unrecognizably charred. It's going to deflate and the skin will get white in some places, but that just means the fire is working its magic on that eggplant.
  3. OPTION 1: Grill Preheat the grill until hot. Add the eggplants and let the fire do its thing, making sure to keep turning the eggplants so they char all over. You want them to get black and maybe even white in some places, 20 to 30 minutes total.
  4. OPTION 2: Broil Preheat the broiler. Put the eggplants in a broiler-proof roasting pan and place the pan as close to the heating element as possible. (You may have to adjust your oven rack to accommodate the depth of the pan and eggplants). Broil until they are evenly charred all over, 35 to 40 minutes, checking and turning the eggplants to keep their shape but get really charred and wilted.
  5. OPTION 3: Stovetop Gas Burners Line your stovetop around your burners with foil. Working with one at a time, place the eggplant over a medium flame and let it char, making sure to turn it every five minutes. Continue cooking until it is deflated and black all over, about 15 minutes.
  6. Transfer the cooked eggplants to a colander in the sink and let the juices run. (The juices can make the dish taste bitter.) Once they're cool enough to handle and being careful to maintain the original shape, remove all of the eggplant skin except for the stem. Set aside on a large platter.
  7. In a blender or food processor, blend together the tomato with the kosher salt. Set aside.
  8. In a small bowl, mix together the za'atar and olive oil. Set aside.
  9. Gently press on the eggplant flesh with a fork to spread it out. 
  10. Drizzle the eggplants with the garlicky tahini and spoon over the pureed tomato. 
  11. Drizzle with the za'atar oil and some red zhug (if using). 
  12. Garnish with the basil and mint and finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Serve warm with fresh bread. Enjoy! 

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