Prized Eggplant

Eggplant is one of those things that you love or hate. Either you like it or you don't. I'm in the former category. I love eggplant; mainly for its versatility. It can be boiled, fried, baked, grilled, whatever. Most people just dip it in bread creams or flour and fry it, using egg yolks as a binder. One of the easiest way to prepare it, I've discovered, is to layer slices of eggplant and tomatoes in a casserole. Then pour sour cream over the layers and bake. Easy, quick and delish.

But my all time favorite eggplant dish is the one listed below. This recipe was given to me 100 years ago by an old friend. Where she got it from I don't know. It could have been a family recipe, maybe not. All I know is that it's the most delicious eggplant preparation I've ever taste. It can be served an an appetizer or an entree as is. Or you can serve it with rice. It's Moroccan so I assume it's got a long pedigree, and it uses items such as cilantro and cumin. And it's a great vegetarian dish for all you vegans out there.


2 eggplants (approximately 1 pound each)
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 small piece of fresh ginger (about 1-inch long), minced
1 teaspoon fresh hot pepper, minced
5 cups tightly packed cilantro leaves
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste
2 lemons, thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prick the eggplant several times with a fork, and rub the skin of each thoroughly with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
2. Bake on oven rack for about 1 hour, or until soft. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
3. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade, process 3 tablespoons of olive oil with garlic, ginger, and hot pepper until smooth. Continue processing while adding cilantro leaves, lemon juice,cumin, salt, and the remaining olive oil. Process until smooth.
4. With a pairing knife, peel the skin from each eggplant, starting from the stem end and pulling the skin downward, leaving the stem attached. Starting just below the stem and moving down, slice peeled eggplant lengthwise into three strips. (Keep attached to stem.) Lay eggplants on a platter and slightly fan out the three sections. Spoon cilantro sauce over fleshy part of eggplant. Garnish with slices of lemon.
Yield: 4 servings.

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