This week's TBT recipe is a celebration of a personal culinary milestone. Until I met Suzi, I never ate eggplant. Oh, I'd sample a couple of tastes in Chinese restaurants and fled to the bathroom. I had come to believe that there is nothing worse on earth. Over time, Suzi has shown patience with me and with the eggplants. It does take some time to construct a proper eggplant dish but, when done, there is nothing better. Well, I'm ingorning steak here, but you can't eat steak every day. This eggplant dish is one you will love every single time you indulge in it. Here's the original post from last year:
I’ve done a bad thing. It’s been bothering me for a couple of weeks and I would like to resolve it. Thing is, having done this bad thing, having confessed to it, I suspect I will do it again. And again.
Oh, I did not do it alone. In fact, Suzen was the mastermind. In fact, it’s all really her fault.
I had seen this recipe for Bake Eggplant with Lemon-Infused Couscous and could not wait to spring it on her.
“Would you be interested?” I began as I put the recipe and the matching picture, one of the most beautiful food shots I have ever seen, in front of her.
“I’m in,” she announced. She got out her shopping list and on the way home from the gym bought all the ingredients that were not already in our pantry. And then it began.
She was getting things set out to cook, when she turned to the freezer and opened the door. “How would you feel,” she began, “if I added some of this lamb sausage.” Her hand came out of the freezer holding a gray coil of her favorite sausage in the whole world.
I did not know what to say. Am I going to turn down sausage? No. So I just asked, “If we add sausage, does that mean this dish is no longer vegan?”
I got a smile and a snort. Sausage was included. So, I’m going to show you the photograph of what we made. You can’t see the sausage, but Suzen cut up a half pound of pieces, sautéed them, and then added to the couscous mixture. We made one other change. The recipe below calls for two teaspoons of harissa. We did four tablespoons of sriracha. What can I say? Suzi and I love heat.
If you make this dish as described below, if you make this vegan, is will be wonderful. But, I must say that a little protein was quite delightful. You could do sausage, chicken pieces, or shrimp.
We each had a half eggplant and it was our one-stop meal, intensely satisfying. And I think it was even healthy. Well, there wasn’t that much sausage.
The recipe does call for a tahini dressing, and a recipe is included in the book. We had a small problem there. I believe that the tahini the author uses in Ireland must have a different consistency from the ones we get at our Middle Eastern market. So, when making this dish, get the tahini dressing of your choice.
My apologies to author Aine Carlin who put so much effort into Keep It Vegan. I promise. I’ll try.
I know that if "vegan" appears in a book title, you might be inclined to walk on. When you see this book, I suggest you pause and browse. There are lovely recipes here you would enjoy and you can surely modify as Suzen and I did. How deep a sin you commit is up to you. Click here for a link to the cookbook review of Keep It Vegan.
Baked Eggplant with Lemon Infused Couscous
Yield: serves 2
- 1 eggplant, halved lengthwise
- 2 teaspoons harissa
- 2-5 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ cup couscous
- Pared strips of zest from ½ lemon
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
- ¾ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped plus extra to garnish
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted, to garnish
- Tahini dressing of your choice
Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly oil a baking sheet.
Score the eggplant flesh diagonally both ways, creating a diamond pattern. Place on the baking sheet. Spread a teaspoon of harissa over each half, covering all the crevices. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over each, season with salt and pepper, and bake for 40 minutes or until the flesh is completely soft, turning over halfway through to ensure the skin doesn't crisp or dry out.
Place the couscous in a bowl with the lemon zest strips. Add ⅔ cup freshly boiled water, cover, and set aside until all the liquid has been absorbed— about 10 minutes. Discard the lemon zest and fluff the couscous with a fork.
Scoop the flesh from the center of each eggplant half, leaving enough around the sides to keep its shape. Roughly chop the flesh and place in a bowl. Stir through the couscous along with the lemon juice, smoked paprika, and remaining olive oil. Season, then add the toasted pine nuts and parsley. Divide the mixture evenly between the eggplant skins. Return to the baking sheet and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the stuffed eggplants from the oven and serve with a dollop of tahini dressing and a sprinkling of sesame seeds and parsley.
Photo Information [top picture]: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/60th second at ISO‑2500