Thursday, 25 July 2013

Baked Eggplant Bites - Arab Style

This recipe is free of gluten, has a low lactose content and is vegetarian friendly.

A few nights ago I was looking for a light snack to eat while I've been re-watching every episode of The Sopranos. I probably should've made something Italian themed to set the atmosphere, but I already did the Light Shrimp Alfredo Pasta last week, and ate it literally everyday (it's pretty delicious), so no more pasta for at least a few weeks!

I've been throwing around the idea of eggplant for a while, as an Arab friend of mine mentioned it's a fairly common vegetable used there but not so much here in Canada. I researched a bit and found eggplant is actually amazing! It's low in calories, about as healthy as a tomato, and is a great substitute for meat. I was sold and went out and bought 6 small eggplants that I used to throw together this lovely appetizer. 

It was my first time eating eggplant on its own, and this is something I'm going to be making over and over! On top of the health benefits, it was also a flavourful, salty snack worthy of replacing chips or fries - things people commonly crunch on when watching T.V. like I was doing. I highly recommend it if you are counting calories, or even if you aren't it's generally a healthier alternative - especially when it's baked!

Normally, eggplant done this way is garnished with something called labneh which is a very very thick strained yogurt common in the Middle East. I wanted to make it a bit healthier, so I used plain non-fat yogurt instead. 

The process for preparing the eggplant is really important so make sure you pay attention to the directions!

Yield: Serves 2-3 as an appetizer/snack 

6 small eggplants, sliced horizontally about a ¼ inch thick
1 teaspoon minced garlic
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon yogurt for each slice
A few generous shakes of baharat (you can substitute this with either a mixture of garam masala and curry, or paprika and cumin makes a great complimentary flavour too)
Dried mint for topping 

Preheat oven to 450°F/230°C/Gas Mark 8.

Salt both sides of the eggplant slices and sandwich between two pieces of paper towel. Eggplant juices are naturally bitter, and this will allow the bitter juices to drain into the paper towel. The salt will bring the juices to the surface more quickly. Press on the slices to get the draining started, then you can leave it alone for 30 minutes to an hour.

Sprinkle both sides with whatever seasoning you chose - baharat or either of the substitutes provided. I used baharat as usual, as it's the best thing ever. Rub the seasoning in.

Mix garlic and olive oil in a bowl and brush mixture onto both sides of the eggplant.

Place the slices in a pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until browned and slightly crispy.

Serve with a teaspoon of yogurt on top sprinkled with dried mint.


Post by McKayla

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