When I was a little kid my parents told me I could choose one thing that I never ever had to eat. This was very difficult for me because I was a very picky eater and disliked so many things. I mean I also liked a lot of weird things, like Brussels sprouts, bread with crusts and things I grew myself. Mushrooms from the store were bad but a mushroom that I grew myself tasted amazing. When I finally chose the one thing I didn’t had to eat, I felt super smart. I wrote it down on my little piece of paper (yes, we actually had little pieces of papers that my dad kept safe in his wallet, so we couldn’t lie about it): I will not eat filled eggplant.
Now, at first glance you might think, filled eggplant? So any other eggplant you have to eat, that is pretty stupid? But actually, I thought it was brilliant because the eggplant was filled with all the other things I didn’t like, and therefore didn’t have to eat, right?
Needless to say I never got away with that, and luckily I learned to eat and love vegetables very soon after. Right now I don’t understand I ever thought eggplants were gross. It is so amazing! But maybe it is something you have to learn to love. Keeping my early childhood dislike in mind, we created the ultimate eggplant dream! We created three different recipes of topped (not filled) eggplant that would be perfect as a late summer picnic, lunch or a DIY top your own dinner.
We will start with the base recipe which is the roasted eggplant. After this we will share the three toppings we created that go on top of the base recipe of the roasted eggplant. All of the recipes are for topping 1 eggplant, but are easily doubled if you want to make for more persons!
The eggplant base
1-2 eggplants per person
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (390 F). Slice the eggplant horizontally and carve the insides. Rub the eggplant with some salt and olive oil and leave to rest for around 15-20 minutes. Place in the oven and cook for around 30 minutes. Let cool before serving.
Mediterranean topped eggplant
Topping for one eggplant
3 tbsp ricotta
5 cherry tomatoes
2 basil leaves
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Whip the ricotta with some pepper until smooth and fluffy. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and tear the basil in smaller pieces. Top the eggplants with the ricotta, followed by the cherry tomatoes, basil and top with balsamic vinegar.
For the next recipe, we used roasted, storebought chickpeas. You can easily make them yourself if you can't find them. Just heat one tablespoon of oil in a pan and add canned chickpeas (drained!) together with some spices (for example chilli powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander etc.). Keep stirring and roasting until the chickpeas are crispy. Another option is to just use normal chickpeas.
Middle Eastern topped eggplant
Topping for one eggplant
1 tbsp roasted chickpeas
1 tbsp pistachio nuts
4 cilantro leafs
1 tsp za'atar spice
1 tbsp tahini
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp honey
Roast the pistachio nuts lightly in a pan. Make the tahini sauce: mix the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and honey together until smooth.
Top the eggplant with the chickpeas, pistachio nuts, teared up cilantro leaves and za’atar spices. Finish with a drizzle of the tahini dressing.
The recipe for the next topping includes a pesto that makes for more than 1 serving. If you are not using it on the eggplant, it tastes also great on pasta, soup, bread etc.
Nordic topped eggplant
Topping for 1 eggplant
¼ sweet potato (grilled in the oven for 15 minutes with olive oil and cayenne)
2 tbsp quinoa
2 hands of kale (ripped without the stems)
3 tbsp olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
1 garlic clove
Handful of pistachio nuts (unsalted)
1 handful basil
Start by roasting the sweet potato. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius (390 F). Cut the potato in cubes and mix with olive oil and cayenne pepper. Roast in the oven for around 15-20 minutes or until cooked. Meanwhile cook the quinoa according to the package.
For the kale pesto: add the kale, olive oil, lemon, garlic, pistachio nuts (shelled!) and basil to the food processor and blend until smooth.
To serve: mix the quinoa with 1 tablespoon of pesto. Mix in the sweet potato and top the eggplant with it.