I think we were all a little worried yesterday when I turned the flame on the stovetop to high and plopped an eggplant on top of it.
And then grilled it.
On my stove.
In my defense, it was sunny with blue skies outside. Definite grilling weather.
I was cooking with the seasons.
At least that was what I told Sophie when she tapped me so politely on the shoulder and said, “Uh, Joanne. Something’s burning.”
Nope. Not burning. Well, yes burning. But intentionally so.
(And no, in all of my arsonist fun I did not throw my review book or my index cards onto the smoldering flames. But don’t think that that thought didn’t cross my mind.)
It’s just that, you know. Sometimes when it feels like summer, you have to ignore fire safety laws and grill things on your stovetop. That’s just the way life is.
This was probably one of the first recipes that caught my eye in Ottolenghi’s eponymous first cookbook. For, I think, obvious reasons.
Roasted butternut squash. Eggplant. Pomegranate molasses. And a good healthy dose of playing with fire.
It’s like he delved into my head and created something based on the myriad crazy things he found there. (And yeah, I think we’re all a little bit lucky that he stopped at “playing with fire”. He must have gotten the PG-13 version of my brain.)
And, I’m going to be honest with you, I was unsure of how much I liked the finish product. At least at first. I made that eggplant puree and tasted it. Arched my eyebrows in quite the doubtful way. Headed off to the gym. And came back to find that the flavors had melded quite beautifully.
The burnt smoky eggplant pureed with the sweet-tart pomegranate molasses and thrown atop roasted butternut squash that has caramelized oh so nicely in your oven. That you, to top it all off, absolutely must eat with your hands.
Definitely worth almost burning down your apartment for. Definitely.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Burnt Aubergine and Pomegranate Molasses
Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main, adapted from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook
1 large butternut squash
1 tbsp green, unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
10 g sliced almonds
Basil leaves, for serving
sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
1 medium eggplant
150 g greek yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cilantro
1 clove garlic
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Trim the top and bottom half of the butternut squash and cut squash lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Cut each half into 2 cm wedges. Place the wedges on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spray with cooking spray or brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until fork-tender. Remove from the oven and let cool.
2. Reduce the oven temperature to 350. Mix together all of the seeds and almonds and scatter on a baking sheet. Toast for 5-8 minutes or until slightly brown and fragrant.
3. For the sauce, if you have a grill (which I do not) place the eggplant on the very hot grill for 30 minutes or until the skin has clearly cracked and the eggplant feels heavy and soft. Or, do what I did, which is line the stovetop around one of your burners with aluminum foil. With the heat on medium-high, place the eggplant on top of the grate above the flame. Roast for about 13-14 minutes, turning frequently, or until eggplant skin is crack and the eggplant feels heavy and soft, as described above. Let cool for a few minutes. Make a long cut through the eggplant and scoop out the flesh. Leave the flesh to drain in a colander for a few minutes, then chop it roughly.
4. In a bowl, mix together the eggplant, yogurt, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, cilantro, and garlic. If you wish for smoother consistency, through it in the food processor and give it a whirl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Place the squash on a serving plate, sprinkle with seeds and basil, and serve with the eggplant sauce.