Sunday, June 26, 2011

Spiced Eggplant and Patty Pan Squash - Maghreb Style

Eggplant is one of those vegetables that people too often say they do not like. Then they try my eggplant parmesan or fried eggplant slices or ratatouille and their response is, "well I like that, but not eggplant." Such a bad rep!

This is one eggplant preparation that will make believers out of everyone. Broiled eggplant, sauteed with fragrant spices and garlic transforms the misunderstood eggplant into food of the gods. Broiling it brings out its mellow sweetness and the spice combination - caraway, cumin, coriander, paprika and cinnamon - are straight out of the North African spice route. Add garlic and cilantro and this dish is pure flavor, no other way to describe it!

I used baby Japanese eggplants found at the farmers' market, but the original recipe from 64 sq ft Kitchen used a globe eggplant (the most common type found in stores). Since cooking several recipes from 64 sq ft Kitchen, it seems that creating a spice mixture and adding it to already cooked food is typical of Maghreb cuisine; somewhat similar to Indian cooking as well. I love making those sort of connections!

This will go to Chris of Mele Cote who is this week's host of Weekend Herb Blogging

Spiced Eggplant and Patty Pan Squash (from 64 sq ft Kitchen)
(serves 2)

2 cups eggplant, cubed (I used 6 baby Japanese eggplant, sliced in 1 inch slices)
2 cups patty pan squash (I used 8 baby patty pans, cut in half)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon mild paprika
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
pinch cinnamon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons cilantro (or mint if you object to cilantro), chopped
olive oil for broiling
dash red wine vinegar (optional)

Put the eggplant cubes in a colander and sprinkle with salt and let it sweat at least 30 min. Rinse and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel. Heat broiler to 450F. Place rack 8 inches away from the broiler. Toss eggplant and patty pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper. Place baking sheet lined with foil and place on broiler rack; cook until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Grind whole spices in mortar and pestle. Meanwhile heat a cast iron or non-stick pan on medium heat. Add spice mixture to pan and stir using a wooden spoon until they become very fragrant. Pour 1 tablespoons of olive oil over spice mixture and add garlic. Add the eggplant cubes and toss them so they get evenly coated with all the spices and the olive oil, adding more to evenly coat veggies. Cook another 2-3 minutes and remove from heat. Sprinkle cilantro on top and season with salt and pepper if needed. Good hot or at room temperature. Sprinkle red wine vinegar over all if using.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Coconut Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahimahi at Eats Well With Others
Oven Fried Zucchini Chips with Basil Dipping Sauce at Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice
Spicy Thai Eggplant at Chez Cayenne


Chris said...

Sounds delicious. Good combo of flavors. Thanks for adding it to WHB!

The Food Hunter said...

I'm a believer just from that photo!

Unknown said...

Made this tonight. Delicious!