Although I have become much more adventurous in my cooking over the years, I am not exactly what I would call a powerhouse of invention. I mostly try things that look good to me and tweak them to my liking. Which is fine. But every once in a while, I come up with something all my own and I get all puffed up with pride. My Creation...
This is just such a one and it is really delicious. It was inspired by the long, thin, dark purple little beauties our three Japanese eggplant plants are churning out of late. They are gorgeous and tasty and so very fresh. I love walking outside my door to gather food that I then translate into a meal with no time for the vegetables herbs and fruits to languish in between. It is the ultimate luxury for someone who likes food.
I have loved pomegranate molasses every since my first taste. It is at once sweet and tart with a rich, fruity flavor. It's quite good eaten by the spoonful, but also does tremendous things for a lot of different foods. And roasted eggplant is most definitely one of them.
I cut up the eggplants into little finger-length wedges of roughly equivalent size so that they would roast evenly. Then I put them in a colander, salted them liberally and left them to drain for a while (longer is better but don't be put off by that if you're in a rush, it will still taste good.)
Then I gave them a little rinse and tossed them right on the baking sheet with a lot of olive oil, a healthy drizzle of pomegranate molasses, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and some garlic powder. The purists among you are more than welcome to mince or press some fresh garlic if garlic powder is distasteful to you, of course, but I love the ease and the way it kind of just disappears into the mix of flavors.
Then into the oven, which I had preheated to 400 degrees F., to roast for a good 45 minutes or so, turning regularly to avoid anything burning or cooking unevenly. The end result is a wonderfully caramelized mess of nutty, sweet, tart eggplant. It is quite decadent just like this if you prefer to stop here.
I toasted some pecans, chopped them up and tossed them on top along with some fresh chives from the garden and some chunks of salty feta cheese. It went fast! Try it and see what you think. Feel free to omit the cheese if you're a vegan – it really is delicious without it – I think I even like it better with just the nuts and no cheese.
Pomegranate Roasted Eggplant with Toasted Pecans & Chives
Roughly 3 pounds of eggplant – 3 medium or 8-10 small Japanese eggplants
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
A handful of fresh chives, washed and chopped
Half a cup of drained, crumbled feta cheese (optional, omit for a vegan dish)
1. Slice the eggplant into wedges or chunks of roughly the same size and shape to ensure even cooking. Sprinkle liberally with salt and set in a colander or sieve in the sink to drain, turning a few times to ensure that the salt coats the eggplant slices evenly. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Let the eggplant sit for 30 minutes then give a quick rinse to remove some of the salt. Toss the eggplant slices with the olive oil, molasses, pepper and garlic powder, turning until everything is well-coated with the mixture, then put it in the oven to roast, turning every 15-20 minutes to avoid burning or sticking. Cook until you are satisfied with the results, which should be soft and caramelized – the exact cooking time will vary depending on how large or small you've cut your eggplant but I'd guess that it will take at least 35-40 minutes. This gives you plenty of time to toast and chop the pecans and chop up the chives.
3. Remove the eggplant from the trays with a metal spatula and place in the serving bowl or platter of your choice. Top with the pecans, chives and feta cheese, if you choose to use it. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve.
Related post on The Garden of Eating: Thai Eggplant Salad with fresh Herbs and Baby Greens