Broiled Eggplant with Tahini Dressing and … Red Currants?

Here’s a very popular thing to do with eggplant these days. I saw Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe, with buttermilk dressing and pomegranate seeds and like so many others I was very taken by the pretty picture of green herbs and red berries on a creamy white ground.

I think a tahini sauce is perhaps a bit more traditional, and at any rate I try not to feed Mr. Ferdzy too much dairy, as it does not agree with him unless it’s slightly elderly cheese. The other thing I did was replace the pomegranate seeds with red currants. Yes! Red currants! They are the right size, the right colour, the right amount of tart and zing, AND unlike pomegranates, they’re growing right in my back yard. Which is where the eggplant came from too, and the cilantro, the garlic, and the summer savory. Pretty good!

The size of the eggplants is less a matter of weight and volume, so much as thickness – 2″ at the thickest point, or less, and they should cook nicely. Anything thicker and you may want to cook them longer, at a lower temperature.

2 to 4 servings
20 minutes prep time PLUS 10 minutes to cool

Make the Za’atar:
2 teaspoons rubbed savory
1 teaspoon rubbed oregano
3 teaspoons sumac
1/4 teaspoon (to taste) Aleppo pepper
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Start broiling the eggplants before you make the za’atar and dressing; then you can make them while it cooks.

Mix the za’atar ingredients together in a small bowl or jar (this is more than you will need, but it’s nice to have a little extra in the pantry). 

Make the Tahini Dressing:
1 to 2 cloves of garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons tahini
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 to 3 tablespoons water

Peel and mince the garlic. Sprinkle the salt over it, and mash them together until they are a paste. Put them in a small bowl, and mix in the tahini. Mix in the lemon juice, then the water. Taste and adjust the amount of water and/or lemon juice if necessary. 

Cook & Dress the Eggplant:
2 medium long thin purple eggplants
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons minced cilantro, mint OR parsley
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh red currants

Preheat the oven with the broiler. Be sure the rack is not in the highest position, but in the next one down. 

Wash the eggplants and trim off the stems. Cut them in half lengthwise. Cut hatchmarks into them, being sure to cut fairly far down but not to the skin. Rub them all over with the oil, both skin sides and cut sides. Lay them in a single layer in a grilling pan that will get them well-placed under the broiler. Broil for 12 to 16 minutes, until tender and browned.

Just one minute or two before you judge them cooked, sprinkle a teaspoonful – or however much you think you would like – over each half eggplant. Finish broiling, then set them aside on a trivet to cool. If you want them on a more attractive serving dish, now is the time to move them.

When you are ready to serve, drizzle the tahini dressing over them. Sprinkle them with the chopped cilantro, and the red currants which have been washed and stripped from the stems.

Last year at this time I made Tart Mixed Berry Cheesecake Crumble. Got a much better berry harvest this year! Although much of it is already picked and gone.