I won't pile on the details of my lovely Lebanese Great-Uncle although you would probably find him as interesting and wonderful as I do, but I will share a dish from his country instead. Vegetables are a huge part of Lebanese meals, be it celebratory or everyday stemming from the Christian rule where meat was to be consumed only at one meal or not at all. Even though such restrictions have been dropped decades ago, vegetables remain a huge part in the Lebanese kitchen. Roasted aubergines brushed with a tart pomegranate vinaigrette and topped with a lusciously creamy tahini yogurt, this dish is a great introduction to acquaint yourself with the foods of Lebanon.
My gorgeous friend Deb in northern England sent me this book for Christmas and I have been trying recipes ever since. Claudia Roden's books, and Arabesque in general, read like a travelogue full of cultural explanation along with enticing recipes. It is one of the best books I have come across in a very long time. This book includes recipes and history of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon. If you are looking to expand your culinary horizons or try something out of your ordinary, I encourage you to pick up a copy.
*Lots of vegetarian recipes for those non-meat eaters.
Aubergine Slices with Pomegranate, Yogurt and Tahini
(Batinjan Bil Rumman Wal Laban)
Courtesy of Arabesque
4 medium aubergines (eggplants), cut into ½" rounds
1 tbs pomegranate molasses
1 tbs red or white wine vinegar
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing eggplant
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbs tahini
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted lightly
Preheat oven to 475°F.
Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil and lightly salt them. Place on an oiled baking sheet and bake, turning once, until they're tender and a little brown, about 30 minutes. Arrange on a platter.
In a small bowl, whisk together the pomegranate molasses, vinegar and 2 tbs olive oil.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, minced garlic and tahini.
Brush the top of the cooked eggplant slices with the pomegranate vinaigrette, then spoon yogurt sauce over them and sprinkle with your pomegranate seeds and pine nuts.