Roasted Eggplant with Tahini Sauce, Sumac and Cilantro
Whole eggplant is a great vegetable to grill on the fire or the BBQ, but it's just as delicious when roasted in the oven. In this recipe, you want to make sure the skin gets nice and charred, which gives the dish a great smoky flavour. Once it's perfectly cooked, it can be served as is, cut open and garnished with tahini sauce, olive oil, sumac, and cilantro. This dish looks impressive and tastes delicious, but it's easy enough to prepare that you could even make it over a fire or camp stove when camping. Or it can be served as part of a Mediterranean mezze, cut into slices and served family-style at the table, accompanied by a fresh Mediterranean-style tomato sauce. This recipe is made with sumac, an extraordinary and underrated spice that transforms every dish it's used in without overpowering other ingredients. Sumac comes from its namesake shrub, whose leaves turn a beautiful red colour in autumn. The shrub produces berries, the colours of which range from brick red, to brown, to purple. The fruits are ground to make sumac, which, in the Middle East, is used to add a touch of acidity to dishes, in the same way one would add lemon juice or vinegar. It is frequently used in salads, sprinkled on grilled vegetables, or mixed into dips. It's essential to both fattoush, a popular Lebanese salad, and in za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend with a distinctive flavour. Try sumac the next time you're cooking a dish with Mediterranean elements. Once you see how well it complements the smoky, rich taste of this roasted eggplant, you'll be hooked!
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Drizzle of olive oil
½ cup tahini sauce
1 tsp sumac
4 sprigs cilantro
Preheat oven to 450°F (235°C). Place eggplant on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast 30 minutes. Eggplant should be almost burnt.
While eggplant is cooking, prepare tahini sauce as directed in the recipe. Coarsely chop cilantro.
When eggplant is done, cut in half lengthwise and then cut those halves in two again. Season flesh with salt and pepper, drizzle with tahini sauce, and sprinkle with sumac and cilantro.