These miniature eggplants make for a delicious appetizer!
Prep Time: 10minutes
Cook Time: 20minutes
Servings: 4servings as an appetizer.
Muhammara (makes 1 cup):
2medium-sized red bell peppers
1/2cupsliced almonds, toasted
2medium garlic cloves
1pintbasket tiny eggplants, such as Fairytale (10 ounces)
2ouncesfeta cheese, crumbled
handful parsley leaves, washed and torn
handful toasted sliced almonds
Make the muhammara:
Roast the bell peppers over an open, medium-low flame, turning frequently, until blackened and blistered all over, 5-10 minutes. Set aside to let cool. When cool, peel off the skin and discard. Slice the peppers open over a bowl to catch their juice, and remove and discard the seeds and stems. Place the walls in the body of a food processor. Reserve the juice.
Toast the cumin in a dry skillet set over a medium flame, shuffling the pan frequently, until the cumin is fragrant, a minute or so. Let cool, then grind finely in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Add to the food processor, along with the almonds, garlic, paprika, salt, cayenne and pomegranate molasses. Process the mixture until silky smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the reserved pepper juice and the smaller amount of lemon juice, blend, then drizzle in the olive oil with the motor running. Taste the muhammara, adding more lemon or cayenne if you like.
Store the muhammara in a jar in the refrigerator. It should keep for at least a week or two.
Prepare the eggplant:
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 475ºF.
Rinse and dry the eggplants, then slice each in half lengthwise, leaving the stem in tact. Lay the eggplant halves on a small (quarter), rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with enough olive oil to coat them lightly, and toss with a few pinches of salt. Arrange the eggplant halves cut side down. Roast until the bottoms are golden the eggplant is tender. Mine took only 5-7 minutes, but the time will vary depending on their size, so check them frequently.
Use a thin, metal spatula to remove the eggplant halves from the oven. Place them cut-side up on a platter. Spoon a bit of muhammara over each half, sprinkle with feta crumbles, sliced almonds, and torn parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature. I find it easiest to eat these out of hand, but do leave behind the inedible stems.
For a more traditional muhammara, use walnuts in place of the almonds.You'll have extra muhammara left over; save the rest for another round of these, or use it as a dip or spread for flatbread or crackers.Heidi writes beautifully about muhammara here.If you don't have pomegranate molasses on hand, I think this dip would still be tasty without it. (Just don't substitute regular molasses, which has a totally different flavor profile going on).If you can't find tiny eggplant, make this with Japanese eggplant, or globe eggplant cut into rounds and salted to sweat out any bitterness.Feel free to throw the oiled eggplant on a grill if you prefer it to the oven.Nutritional values are based on one of four servings.