Roasted eggplant salad with toasted coriander
Serves 4 as an appetizer or side dish
Roasting eggplant is so good, so easy, it’s always worth having an extra purple guy around for emergency dips.
Grilling is always the best way to roast an eggplant, so it’s worth putting a few eggplants on the grill during the summer after everyone has had their fill of veggie burgers. But if you don’t or can’t fire up a grill, a little cheating with a drop of liquid smoke adds that special char-broiled flavor that makes Lebanese grilled eggplant salad so delectable.
Tip: Choose medium sized eggplants over really huge fruits; very large eggplants are older and tend to be loaded with more seeds than their younger siblings.
1 ½ -2 lb purple globe eggplants
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons tahini paste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
Additional salt and lemon juice to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and have a ready a ceramic baking dish that can snuggly fit the eggplants. Prick the outside of the eggplant with a fork several times, then roast the eggplant for 30-40 minutes until outside is very wrinkled and easily pierced with a knife. While the eggplant is roasting toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a small skillet over a medium flame for 1 minute or until fragrant, then pour into a mortar and pestle and crush the seeds, or grind in a spice mill. Pour the seeds into a large mixing bowl.
2. In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic into a paste with the sea salt. Use a spoon or small rubber spatula to scrape this garlic mixture into the mixing bowl with the ground seeds. Add tahini paste and stir to combine.
3. When the eggplant is finished roasting, remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then split open and either scoop out the insides or peel away the skin (sometimes I find the skin can peel away easily by grabbing hold of the stem, finding a piece of skin and pulling it back). Work quickly and move the roasted eggplant to a cutting board and roughly chop, and then slid into the mixing bowl and sprinkle all over with lemon juice (to prevent further browning). Add liquid smoke (if using) and black pepper. Stir everything until eggplant starts to look creamy; taste and adjust with more lemon juice and salt if desired. To serve, spread eggplant thinly in a shallow serving dish and drizzle with good olive oil. The flavor will improve with some chilling, so consider making this a day ahead.