Monday, March 7, 2011

Quick Dinner: Eggplants in Spicy Honey Sauce, Hummus, and Citrus Salad

My experience with eggplant is limited.  I've grilled it once, tossed into a curry a handful of times, and made baba ghanoush occasionally.  It seems like a very versatile ingredient, but I don't really get around to cooking it very often. 

Sometimes, I don't feel like making something elaborate for dinner.  Usually it's because I'm too busy punching things in the face (that is, playing Batman: Arkham Asylum), or because  I went running or to yoga.  But, I've got to eat and microwaved meals so aren't my thing.  So, behold, Eggplant in Tangy Honey Sauce with a side of hummus and orange olive salad.  I made the hummus earlier in the week, so the only active time involved was plorping it down on the plate.  The citrus salad was quickly made while the eggplants were cooking. 

Although the eggplant was quite tasty, the star of the show was definitely the harissa hummus, which is just my regular hummus but with a ton of harissa added in while it was still in the food processor.  I remain obsessed with harissa because it's spicy, but has a flavor.  So many hot sauces are just for heat, while the harissa is tangy, peppery, and has just enough heat to make it spicy enough for me.  I suspect that in the future, I'll turn half my batch of regular hummus into harissa hummus.  

According to The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, the eggplant is a North African dish that is best served cold.  I was too hungry and ate it at about room temperature.  Next time, I'll let it cool all the way, but this time my impatience got the best of me. 

Eggplants in a Spicy Honey Sauce
from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food
Serves 2

2 eggplants (I used graffiti eggplant because that was what was available at the store)
olive oil
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 inch fresh ginger, grated or cut into pieces with the juice squeezed out in a garlic press (I used a ginger grater).
3/4 tsp ground cumin
large pinch of cayenne pepper or chili powder to taste (I used cayenne)
2-3 Tbsp honey
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup water

1) Do not peel the eggplants. Cut them into 1/3 inch rounds.   Brush on both sides with olive oil.  Lightly brown by cooking them on a griddle or broiling them.  (I broiled them). They don't need to soften, they'll do that later in the sauce.
2) In a wide saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Add garlic and cook for a few seconds.  Remove the pan from the heat.
3)  Add ingredients from ginger through water and mix well.  Add eggplant rounds.  They should be in one layer, so you may have to work in batches.  I found that the rounds from 1 eggplant fit in my large pan.  Cook the eggplants over low heat for about 10 minutes or until they are soft and have absorbed some sauce.  Add some water if necessary.
4) I had some parsley sitting around so I put it on my hummus and on the eggplants.  I also spooned a little extra sauce on them. 

A few words about my hummus.  I like it very smooth and creamy.  When I first began making it, I was impatient and never left it in the food processor for long enough.  So, it was grainy in areas and as a result it wasn't very good.  Or, worse, I added water when it was completley unnecessary, which left me with gross, runny hummus.  For me, the trick to excellent hummus is leaving it in the food processor for a long time.  Basically, I leave it in until I'm convinced that I've left it in for too long, and usually that's just perfect.  My ratio is the juice of one lemon for every 14 oz can of chick peas.  That might be too lemony for some.  I also add less tahini that a lot of people, 200 calories per tablespoon is a lot, especially if I eat a lot of hummus.  For the harissa hummus, I started by making a double batch of hummus (using 4 cans instead of 2, etc.) and then I take about half of it out after step (3) below and stash it in some tupperware in the fridge.  Then I added the harissa to the remaining hummus.  That way I had two different types of hummus.

Harissa Hummus
by Scienter
Makes a lot!

2 14 oz cans chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed well
juice from 2 lemons
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
3-4 Tbsp tahini, or to taste
salt and white pepper (the white pepper is for cosmetic purposes, black pepper is fine since they're the same spice.  I got mine at Penzeys).
4 Tbsp harissa, or to taste
1/8 cup olive oil
a few Tbsp water (optional)

1) Put the chick peas and garlic in a large food processor.  Pulse several times until they're chopped up pretty finely.  Use a spatula to shove them back down the sides of the processor if they creep up during pulsing. 
2) Add the lemon juice, tahini, salt, and white pepper and process for about a minute.  Use a spatula if the mixture creeps up the sides.  Process it until you think you've processed it for too long.  Then process it some more.  Basically, it should be processed until it's uniformly creamy. 
3) With the processor running, add the olive oil and let the processor run until it's incorporated.  If the hummus is still not the texture you want, add some water, a few splashes at a time.  Be careful not to overdo it with the water or you'll end up with runny hummus.
4)  Add harissa.  Process until the color is uniform.  
5) Serve cold with pita or your favorite hummus accompaniment. 

The recipe for Orange and Olive Salad can be found in this post. 


Michelle said...


I'm adding "plorping" to my vocabulary now. :D

Scienter said...

Plorp is a technical term! :)


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