Sunday, February 9, 2014

Meet The Chef - Ottolenghi's Eggplant With Saffron Yogurt

I don't know about you, but I'm sick of this cold. We barely broke twenty all week.  Apparently, it's not just a cold snap, but more like a weather "condition". Kind of a thing, you might say. My husband, who happens to enjoy a later work schedule than mine, sent me off each morning, half delirious, mumbling the words: "poollaaaarr vooortexxx," his sleep-laden voice muffled by layers of sheets and comforter, making him sound, adorably, like E.T. on quaaludes. If you too are looking for a way to forget about the nose-diving mercury, why not join me for a quick an easy culinary sojourn to a warmer climate? 

Roasted Eggplant With Saffron Yogurt and Pomegranate, Photo: NK
Today's recipe for Eggplant With Saffron Yogurt comes from it chef Yotam Ottolenghi. I have been obsessed with this guy ever since I read about him in one of my food mags. Born to Italian and German parents and raised in Jerusalem, Ottolenghi made a name for himself once he moved to England, where he started a series of gourmet food shops. His recipes are gorgeous, simple, and his heavy focus on the flavors of the Middle East, is right up my alley. Learn about him!  Clearly, I was delighted when I received one of his cookbooks as a Christmas gift (more about the awesome foodie gifts I was lucky enough to receive here). Back to our gorgeous vegetable side dish. Today's platter of golden roasted eggplant, creamy saffron yogurt, and bright basil leaves makes for a pretty dramatic presentation. A sprinkle of crunchy pomegranate seeds add color and crunch. Side note: we're loving pomegranate lately…check out our Basil Pesto and Pomegranate Pasta HERE. It just happens to be a wonderful way to use any leftover ingredients from this recipe. 

Ok then, on to the main event!

Roasted Eggplant Wedges, Photo: NK

Ottolenghi's Eggplant With Saffron Yogurt
By Yotam Ottolenghi/Sami Tamimi
Ottolenghi The Cookbook 
Serves 4 

Pinch of Saffron Threads
3 Tablespoons Hot Water
3/4 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
1 Clove of Garlic, crushed
2.5 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil 
Sea Salt

3 Medium Eggplants, cut into 3/4 inch rounds and then into wedges
2 Tablespoons Pine Nuts, toasted 
Olive Oil, for brushing
Handful of Pomegranate Seeds
About 20 Basil Leaves
Sea Salt and Black Pepper

Making the Saffron Yogurt, Photo: NK
1. To make the sauce, steep the saffron threads in a small bowl with the hot water. Let the mixture sit for at least five minutes. 

2. Place yogurt into another bowl, and pour in the saffron infused liquid. Now add the garlic, lemon juice, and a good pinch of salt. Give it a whisk and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary dab then place it in the fridge to chill. This sauce will keep up to 3 days.

3. Preheat the oven to 425 and oil 2 large baking sheets. Brush eggplant wedges on each side with some more oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Roast the eggplant at least 20 minutes. It should take on a rich, light brown color. Depending on your oven, you can let them go up to another 10 minutes but watch them careful so they do not burn. When finished, cool the eggplant.  It will also keep for 3 days, but you must bring it to room temperature before serving. 

4. To serve, place the eggplant slices on a large platter with their edges slightly overlapping. Drizzle the eggplant with the saffron yogurt and sprinkle it with pine nuts and pomegranate. Place the basil on top of it all. Serve and enjoy!

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