Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce

Friday, July 27, 2012

Recipe: "Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce" from "Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi" by Yotam Ottolenghi.
Rating: Great. Quick and easy recipe. I like the buttermilk sauce.
Status: Made twice.

The recipe for "Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce" from "Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi" by Yotam Ottolenghi is available from Note that there is an error in cooking temperature of the online version of the recipe (the book is correct); the eggplants should be cooked at 400 F (at high heat).

This is a good recipe to make in early fall (September, October), since (at least in the Bay area) that's when the end of the eggplant season overlaps with the beginning of the pomegranate season, and fall is a good season for roasting vegetables since the temperatures are starting to cool enough to let the oven heat up the house. I like to buy eggplants from farmer's markets; the fresher the eggplants are, the easier it is to cook them into melting softness and the less bitter they will be.

The recipe says that it serves 4 as a starter, but I think it actually serves 8 as a starter. The recipe is very flexible. You can scale the number of eggplants up or down as long as you make extra sauce and scale all of the ingredients appropriately. You can use 2 large and long eggplants for this recipe (dark purple ones look especially pretty) or you can use 6 small-medium sized (5-inch long) ones. The small-medium sized ones are nice because each half is perfectly proportioned for an appetizer. The smaller sized eggplants will need slightly less time than the larger ones (my 5-inch ones needed only 35 minutes), so you should start checking the smaller eggplants much earlier. Larger eggplants will probably need to roast for 35 to 45 minutes.

Maldon salt (the suggested type of salt) is a good choice of salt for this recipe. You should generously salt the eggplants before roasting them. I like to use about 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal salt in the buttermilk sauce (it will be only slightly salty) and sprinkle additional Maldon salt on the dressed eggplants (rather than making the sauce a little saltier).

This recipe is easy to make ahead of time or bring to a potluck, since the eggplants should be served at room temperature (though the buttermilk sauce should be served cold). The roasted eggplants also keep well for at least a day; store in a closed container in the refrigerator and let sit on the counter a while to come close to room temperature before topping with the buttermilk sauce and other garnishes.

If you are making this recipe, then consider making "Chickpea Pancakes with Buttermilk Sauce" the next morning for breakfast, since you will most likely have a leftover carton of buttermilk, buttermilk sauce, and pomegranate seeds.

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