By Addie Broyles
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I know, I know. This isn't the time of year when you want to turn on the oven and roast anything.
Heating an oven to 450 degrees isn't my favorite way to spend time in the kitchen, either, but there are just some foods I don't want to give up just because it's 103 degrees outside. Bread is one of them, and roasted vegetables are another. You can't replicate that high, dry heat for baking bread outside the oven (or maybe a grill, but it's too hot for that, too), but you can use a cast-iron skillet over high heat for a similar effect on vegetables and meats.
An air fryer is also a good method for cooking veggies that you might otherwise roast, including Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and eggplant. This recipe for roasted eggplant topped with yogurt, Aleppo chile and pistachios is from "Falastin," the newest book from Sami Tamimi, who co-writes with Yotam Ottolenghi.
One of the components that make this dish stand out is the feta yogurt, which you could serve on so many different foods, from grilled meats to flatbreads. This is the time of year when eggplant is at its prime, so don't let the roasted part turn you off from trying the dish altogether, and use the technique later in the year with winter squash, beets, cauliflower or other cold-weather veggies.
Roasted eggplant, feta yogurt, Aleppo chile and pistachios
There are lots more sheep and goats than there are cows in Palestine, as cows are not traditionally reared. Much of the yogurt and cheese, therefore, is made from sheep or goat milk. It's tangy - sour, even - in a way that works well against the rich "meatiness" of roasted eggplant. The further the yogurt or cheese is taken - whether hung, in the case of labneh, or fermented, in the case of kishek - the more intense the tanginess. In this dish, which features often on the Ottolenghi menu, we use feta. It has a similar tangy-sour flavor profile at the same time as being instantly ready to use. The feta yogurt and other toppings work equally well on other roasted vegetables - roast wedges of beet or butternut squash, for example - as they do with the eggplant.
If you want to get ahead, all the various elements can be made up to a day in advance. Keep the eggplant and the feta yogurt in the fridge, separately, returning the eggplant to room temperature before serving.
- Sami Tamimi
4 large eggplants (about 2 pounds)
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons pistachios, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup dill leaves
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo chile flakes (or 1/8 teaspoon regular chile flakes)
2 teaspoons whole milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 1/2 ounces feta, crumbled
1 1/4 cups Greek yogurt
1/8 teaspoon salt
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut each eggplant, lengthwise, into wedges. They should be about 3/4-inch wide at the base. Place them in a large bowl with the oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix to combine, then spread out on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown, then remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
To make the feta yogurt, put the milk, lemon juice, feta, yogurt and salt into a bowl. Whisk well to combine, breaking apart the feta until it almost disintegrates, then keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
Arrange the eggplant wedges on a large platter or individual serving plates and spoon on the feta yogurt. Top with the pistachios, mint, dill and chile flakes and serve. Serves 2 to 4.
- From "Falastin: A Cookbook" by Sami Tamimi, Tara Wigley and Yotam Ottolenghi (Ten Speed Press, $35)
Addie Broyles writes about food for the Austin American-Statesman in Austin, Texas. She can be reached at email@example.com, or follow her on Twitter at @broylesa