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Anatolian Creamy Eggplant and Almond Salad

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The fall eggplant harvest has begun, and I had two deeply purple orbs hanging from the plant, ready to pick. But what do to with them?

I found the answer in Clifford A. Wright’s exhaustive but, unfortunately out of print cookbook, “Little Foods of the Mediterranean: 500 Fabulous Recipes for Antipasti, Tapas, Hors d’Oeuvre, Meze and More”. (A few used copies can be found, and if you like foods of the Mediterranean, I would recommend it highly.)

He has a number of eggplant options, but the one that appealed most to me was a salad or spread made with toasted almonds, Greek yogurt and pomegranate molasses. “This Turkish salad served as a meze is called nazuktan and is typical in central Anatolia,” he writes. “It is made in a number of different ways. Some cooks stir in pomegranate molasses, a taste I like in this recipe.”

You can find pomegranate molasses in specialty markets and Middle Eastern grocers, such as Ali Baba, Salaam International Food Market and Central Market.

Anatolian Creamy Eggplant and Almond Salad

1 1/2 pounds eggplant
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup labna or Greek yogurt
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
Salt, to taste3 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves

Anatolian Creamy Eggplant and Almond Salad

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the eggplant in a baking dish with a little water or on a rack and roast until the skin blisters black, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven an , when cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and stem and remove as many seeds as you can.

While the eggplant is roasting, place the almonds on a baking sheet and bake until golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. Set aside 6 or 7 almonds and grind the rest coarsely in a food processor.

Chop the eggplant and place in a colander to drain for 20 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to a large bowl and stir in the Greek yogurt, chopped almonds, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses, and season with salt.

Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the mint and garnish with the whole almonds.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From “Little Foods of the Mediterranean: 500 Fabulous Recipes for Antipasti, Tapas, Hors d’Oeuvre, Meze and More” by Clifford A. Wright

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