Thursday, 21 March 2013

Roast for the Most

Melanzane al Forno con Couscous allo Coriandolo e Peperoni Rossi
Oven-Roasted Eggplant with Cilantro-Pepper Couscous & Feta

I love eggplant- in almost any form- unless it is fried and greasy that is. It has a distinctive, individual and hard to place flavor, which is mild but at the same time deep and complex- the challenge always is to find something to combine it with and how to make the most of it...

...and the way I chose to go about preparing it this evening was very simple and wonderful for bringing out its natural, rich flavor. I kept it pretty plain, roasted it in the oven and seasoned it with a little of my infused salt mixes, so as to not overpower its gentle flavor and served it up with a refreshing red pepper, cilantro and lime couscous... a match made in heaven! Even if I do say so myself!

To bring out the best of the eggplant's flavor, I cut it into 2 thick slices and then made a few diagonal cuts into them, just about half the depth of the slices and then sprinkled them with salt and set them aside for 20-30 minutes. After that time, the salt had drawn the bitter moisture out of the eggplant and they were ready to prepare... but first, let me tell you about how I prepared the couscous in the meantime...

For the couscous, I simply poured twice the amount of boiling water than couscous and got busy chopping the ingredients that would be added whilst it became fluffy and light. In this case, I kept it simple, using lime juice, plenty of chopped cilantro and fined diced red peppers. I seasoned it very lightly with salt (as more would be added later) and added a tiny drop of olive oil... and that was it! Onwards to the main attraction...

After half an hour, the eggplant was ready to be rinsed, very briefly under the tap to get rid of any excess salt. I then poured a little olive oil into the palm of my hand and rubbed it lightly into the eggplant until the surface had a nice sheen. I then popped it into my 350°F hot oven, with the broiler turned on ready for action, for 5-6 minutes on on each side.

Once the eggplant was golden brown, soft and tender and ready to be served, I laid it out on top of a bed of my flavorful couscous and added a handful of crumbled Feta cheese, a last little squeeze of lime and a light sprinkle of my "Salt of the Earth"- you can read the recipe and method again here: but in any case it brought out all of the good flavor of each individual ingredient... and that is a lot of flavor! And flavors that you will enjoy at that!

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