Here is how you cook an eggplant— you roast it at high temperature for about 30 minutes, until the insides are soft and custardy and the purple skin is crackled and browning. Then you top it with buttermilk garlic sauce and eat it with a spoon.
This is my new favorite thing.
Everything changes so quickly. The other night I sat on the sidewalk, and remembered the time that Daniel and I wrote our names in chalk in the middle of the road in the middle of the night. The other night, I leaned back and looked for stars, but the only thing shining was the orange streetlight. And I was in the same neighborhood, but sitting on a different street, and everything is so different than I thought it would be then.
It changes so quickly.
You never get to catch your breath.
This recipe is once again from Yotam Ottolenghi’s beautiful cookbook Plenty. He has a whole chapter titled “The Mighty Eggplant.” How I’ve spent a lifetime without regular eggplant is too horrible to dwell on. Maybe it’s because there’s something vaguely intimidating about their dark luster? (lol)
And even though my days and nights are lately tangled, and I never know what the date is, or the time, I’m finally getting my footing after several unruly and weird months. I’m looking forward to little things— working and routine. To sitting on more silent sidewalks. And remembering everything and seeing how it resolves and becomes new again.
And then coming home, and eating lots of eggplant.
I feel lucky.
I love you.
Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce
from Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi
Note: This recipe calls for several fairly specific ingredients such as za’atar and lemon thyme leaves. I improvised and used thyme and lemon juice to convey the idea, and I don’t even know what za’atar is. The point is, make it work baby. And I didn’t use pomegranates either, and lived to tell the tale. Though of course, pomegranates can only improve everything. xoxo
2 large and long eggplants
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp lemon thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs to garnish
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp za’atar
9 tbsp buttermilk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle to finish
1 small garlic clove, crushed
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways, cutting straight through the green stalk (the stalk is for the look; don’t eat it.) Use a small sharp knife to make three or four parallel incisions in the cut side of each eggplant half, without cutting through to the skin. Repeat at a 45-degree angle to get a diamond shaped pattern.
Place the eggplant halves, cut-side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with olive oil— keep on brushing until all of the oil has been absorbed by the flesh. Spring with the lemon thyme leaves and some salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft, flavorful and nicely browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down completely.
While the eggplants are in the oven, cut the pomegranate into two horizontally. Hold one half over a bowl, with the cut side against your palm, and use the back of a wooden spoon or a rolling pin to gently knock on the pomegranate skin. Continue beating with increasing power until the seeds start coming out naturally and falling through your fingers into the bowl. Once all are there, sift through the seeds to remove any bits of white skin or membrane.
To make the sauce. Whisk together all of the ingredients. Taste for seasoning, then keep cold until needed.
To serve, spoon plenty of buttermilk sauce over the eggplant halves without covering the stalks. Spring za’ater and plenty of pomegranate seeds on top and garnish with lemon thme. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.