Sometimes it pays off to simplify a recipe.
My elegant aunt Dalia was visiting from Israel over the holidays, and she gave me a special Rosh HaShanah copy of the Israeli cooking magazine Al HaShulkhan (“At the Table”). I opened it to a beautiful picture of an eggplant covered in leeks and pomegranate seeds, and immediately said, “I am making this.” I showed the recipe to my roommate Alex – who said “that looks beautiful but … complicated.”
Indeed, Alex was right. The original recipe was not actually complicated in technique, but in serving. A whole roasted eggplant carefully stuffed with leeks and pomegranate is lovely to look at, but a lot of work to serve and eat. So I decided to simplify matters by chopping the eggplant like a salad – thus putting the work on the cook, and not the end line consumer. The end result was as beautiful as it was delicious.
Eggplant, leeks, and pomegranates all have long Jewish histories stretching back to the Ancient Near East. I’ve discussed each in prior posts. The combination may seem a tad unorthodox, but trust me: this salad is delicious.
Eggplant with Leeks and Pomegranate
Based on a recipe by Erez Golko and Shlomi Navon in “Al HaShulkhan,” September 2017 (in Hebrew)
4 medium-sized eggplants, cut in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 medium-sized leeks, washed, diced, and washed again
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Seeds of one pomegranate
1 fistful fresh parsley, chopped
Salt, ground black pepper, and lemon juice to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.
- Spread the eggplants apart on a cookie sheet, with the cut side facing up. Drizzle the vegetable oil over the eggplant.
- Roast the eggplant for 40-50 minutes, or until the outside is browned and the eggplants are soft to the fork. Remove the eggplants from the oven and let them cool.
- While the eggplant is cooling, heat a pan. Add the oil, and then add the leeks. Saute the leeks for 5-7 minutes, or until the leeks have softened and are beginning to brown.
- Once the leeks are cooked, add the vinegar and stir rapidly through the leeks. Then, remove the leeks from the heat. Reserve the oil and the vinegar in the pan.
- Once the eggplant is cool, remove the peels from the eggplant flesh. Chop the eggplant flesh roughly, then place the flesh in a large bowl.
- Pour the leeks, oil, and vinegar over the eggplant.
- Add the pomegranate seeds and parsley. Mix everything together.
- Season with salt, ground black pepper, and a bit of lemon juice to taste. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. The eggplant goes particularly well with bread or rice.
Thank you to Avi Garelick, Madeline Richer, Akiva Lichtenberg, Amram Altzman, and Jamie Weisbach for participating in User Acceptance Testing for this recipe.