Thyme & Mint Roasted Eggplant
Japanese Eggplant, Arugula, Spinach, Tomato
Garlicky Yogurt Sauce, Arugula Flowers Garnish
While the presentation may look a bit familiar, the dish itself is unique. It is inspired by one of my all time favorite chefs ~ Yotam Ottolenghi. His fans will recognize the Japanese eggplant presentation from the cover of his innovative vegetarian cookbook Plenty, where he adorns them with pomegranate arils and za’atar. Try Ottolenghi’s dish in autumn when pomegranates are in season, but try my version this summer with bursting ripe tomatoes and vibrant fresh greens.
Roasted Japanese Eggplant
Cut Japanese eggplants in half lengthwise. Score a diamond pattern into the flesh. Brush generously with olive oil. Season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, sprinkle with fresh thyme and mint. Roast in a 400° oven for about 30 minutes until the eggplants are soft and browned. Cool to room temperature.
Garlicky Yogurt Sauce
- 1/2 c. Greek yogurt
- 1 T. fruity olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together. Set aside to let flavors meld.
The arugula and arugula flowers come from my garden. Arugula flowers make a delightful garnish, they taste like light arugula leaves, maybe with a hint of sweetness. Interestingly, as the arugula plant flowers, the flavor of the leaves become more intense, more peppery. Pairing the peppery arugula with an equal amount of fresh spinach helps balance the fresh green flavors.
- roasted eggplant
- spinach (not baby), torn
- arugula leaves
- arugula flowers
- tomato, seeded and diced
- petite fresh mint leaves
- garlicky yogurt sauce
Side note: Do you remember the time was there was no such thing as triple washed baby spinach in a bag? I have memories of working alone in the basement kitchen at the old Ute City Bank Restaurant in Aspen, Colorado, hands submerged in a big stainless sink full of spinach, pulling off the center stems and tearing the leaves for our popular spinach salad. That hearty texture and flavor of mature spinach leaves paired perfectly with those hot bacon dressings from yesteryear.
Toss arugula and spinach with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange eggplant on a platter. Top eggplant with greens, spoon yogurt sauce over the greens. Top with tomato, garnish with flowers and mint.
For extra crunch and flavor, add nuts or seeds. Here, roasted salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) made a tasty addition….