All around the Mediterranean, you can find delicious dishes made with eggplants in numerous ways. The inspiration for this dish came from the delectable combination of deep fried eggplants and Labneh.*
To make this dish even tastier and more colorful, I have topped the warm eggplant slices with a pepper-herbs salsa, and added pine nuts on top of the Labneh, for a bit of a crunch. I prefer to roast the eggplant slices instead of deep-frying them. It takes a while to roast them in the oven, but the result is much lighter. The prepared dish keeps, in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to a week.
* Labneh is a creamy yogurt cheese and can be found in Turkish or health stores. If you cannot find it, thick yogurt is a great substitute.
Makes: about 6 (3-4 slices per appetizer)
Prepping time: 30 minutes
Roasting time: 40-45 minutes
For the eggplants:
2 large eggplants
About ½ cup olive oil
For the salsa:
¼ cup apple or white wine vinegar
¼ cup water
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp each black pepper and cayenne – or to taste
¼ tsp sugar
3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup small diced mini-peppers
½ cup chopped mixed herbs (parsley, mint, celery leaves)
1 cup Labneh (yogurt cheese) or thick yogurt
¼ cup pine nuts
Extra virgin olive oil
1. The eggplants: Preheat oven to 415F (210C). Line a baking sheet with foil and place a rack on top. Prepare an airtight dish and a pastry brush. Cut off the eggplants ends, and slice medium thick. Brush both sides with olive oil and place on the rack. Sprinkle with Kosher salt.
2. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Take out and carefully turn the slices. Return to the oven and roast for additional 20-25 minutes, or until the slices are golden-brown on both sides.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the salsa: in a bowl, combine the vinegar, water, salt, pepper, cayenne and sugar. Mix to dissolve salt and sugar. Add the garlic, peppers and herbs and mix. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
4. Assembly: while the eggplant slices are still warm, place a few slices in an airtight dish. Spoon a bit of the salsa on each slice. Continue to do so until all the slices and salsa are used. Cover the dish and let the eggplants steam in it at room temperature. When cooled, place in the fridge until ready to use.
To serve: place 3-4 slices on each plate. Top the slices with the Labneh or yogurt and pine nuts. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil and serve.