One of the great treats of working for PFI is being able to do kitchen testing when new products arrive on our shelves. Donna will say something like, “Somebody should take this stuff home and play around with it.” I can’t usually resist a challenge like that. That’s exactly what happened with Sadaf’s “Pulp of Grilled Eggplants”. Here’s my report.
So, what is the product like right out of the can? Well, the ingredients list is, like all Sadaf products, impressively simple: Eggplant, Vinegar, Water and Salt. The grilling imparts a fine smokiness that transfers well to all kinds of dishes. There’s just enough vinegar to guarantee there won’t be any “can taste”. Also, I was expecting there to be some sliminess to the canned eggplant, but that wasn’t an issue at all. This is a great way to get some eggplant into your dishes.
Of course, I wanted to know what sort of Baba Ghanouj this eggplant makes. Would it eliminate the need to prep raw eggplant for my favorite dip? That’s exactly what it did. In addition to the smokiness, there’s also a brightness that really works in Baba Ghanouj. Don’t use the Baba Ghanouj recipe on the can, though. Use this one:
In the bowl of your food processor place 1 can of Sadaf grilled eggplant pulp, 4-6 cloves of garlic, salt to taste, 1 cup tahini, juice of 4 or 5 lemons and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Pulse until smooth. Correct seasonings. I love adding ja bit of toasted, ground cumin seed to the bowl before I start to pulse things together but that’s not particularly common. I place the dip in a simple, bright bowl and garnish it with flat leaf parsley and olives.
The other traditional dish I thought might be adapted for this product was Moussaka. I was a little concerned that the presentation might be a little soupy, which led me to mess around some with the whole Moussaka concept: I put it in a puff pastry tart shell. This turned out to be a fairly ambitious dish. Delicious though. The only change I’ve made to the recipe that I created for the photo to the below is that I waited to top the pie with myzithra cheese until about halfway through baking.
Here’s the recipe for the Moussaka Pie (photo right).
The Eggplant-Filled Yam Nests (photo left), on the other hand, were an invention. They’re fairly simple and make a nice light appetizer. The nests and filling may be made in advance. Don’t fill the nests until just before serving, however. Here’s how you do it.
Nests: peel and grate two medium yams. In a bowl, add the yams to 2 large, beaten eggs and a tablespoon of Aleppo pepper. Combine well. Press into well-greased mini-muffin tins. Use just enough yam to cover the bottoms and sides. Bake @ 420 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Use a small metal spatula to carefully slide the nests out of the pans onto a wire rack. Dust lightly with fine salt.
Filling: Combine, in a bowl, one can of eggplant, 3 roma tomatoes (chopped small), 2 tsp finely minced fresh garlic, 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh mint, and salt to taste. You can use leftover filling (and there will be a lot leftover) as a great salsa for pita chips.
To finish the nests, spoon a bit of the eggplant mixture into the nests. Top with a dollop of plain Greek yoghurt. I dusted them with a bit more Aleppo pepper.
This last thing is probably the best thing I’ve cooked in a couple of years. It’s another invention, this time a pilaf using ingredients mostly pulled from the PFI shelves.
Here’s the recipe for Freekeh Eggplant Pilaf. Try it. I think you’re going to love it.We had it with grilled chicken (photo right) but it would be stunning with grilled lamb. Or pretty much anything.
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