Roasted Eggplant with Charmoula Sauce

Roasted Eggplant with Charmoula Sauce

Last week, I told you all that I bought The Food of Morocco, and have been on a Moroccan food kick. The kick continues today… with this Roasted Eggplant with Charmoula Sauce.

There are already a lot of eggplant recipes on this blog, and I know it’s not everyone’s favorite vegetable. This blog post is really more about the sauce, which you could use over fish, grilled meat, or roasted veggies (and don’t stop there). Or, eggplant.

It struck me, while I was adding all of the ingredients for this Charmoula to the blender, that it’s just like so many other herb-based sauces found around the world. It combines oil with an acid (lemon juice), garlic, salt, and pepper, and heaps of herbs. In this case, cilantro and parsley. The process reminded me of making a South American Chimichurri, or the garlicky dipping oil used in Ecuador, or even pesto.

It is not so much their similarity that surprises me, but the idea that diverse people, strung out across the world, all arrived at a similar solution to saucing food. Oil, herbs, garlic. I’m not a historian, though a quick look at the Wiki history of Chimichurri sauce suggests it was brought over by Spanish immigrants. Were all of these sauces another way of making the flavors immigrants were familiar with in a new environment, with new ingredients? Perhaps. (I, by the way, adored this essay on how immigrants assimilate through food).

Roasted Eggplant with Charmoula Sauce
Roasted Eggplant with Charmoula Sauce

The other thing that struck me about Charmoula was it’s flavor, which I found sharper and stronger than chimichurri or pesto. I would probably eat a spoonful of pesto straight. At least, I would definitely lick the spatula. And maybe I would with charmoula as well, but it’s flavor is not as sweet, or creamy — it will wake you up a bit! It’s salty and tart and herbaceous. Which is why it’s a perfect finishing sauce, the final touch on roasted eggplant that wakes it all up. A drizzle over a fillet of fish that brings everything together. The “zing.”

Pulling from Mediterranean flavors, I also added a drizzle of tahini to this eggplant. It’s richness is a good counterpart to charmoula, and the charmoula cuts through the richness of the tahini. Eggplant — we'll, I’d say it’s just the carrying vessel, but others might disagree.

Roasted Eggplant with Charmoula Sauce

Roasted Eggplant with Charmoula Sauce

Published March 12, 2019 by
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Serves: 4   |    Active Time: 45 minutes



Ingredients:


For the charmoula:
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
  • Dash cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 1/3 cup packed parsley leaves

  • For the eggplant:
  • 2 eggplants
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • For serving: 1/4 cup tahini

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
    2. Slice stem from eggplant and then cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Spread out on a baking sheet (or two) in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt, and allow eggplant to sit for 5-10 minutes. The salt with help reduce bitterness.
    3. Brush eggplant with olive oil. Flip eggplant and brush the second side. Place in oven and bake 30-35 minutes, until eggplant is soft all the way through, and is golden/brown on the edges.
    4. While eggplant cooks, combine all ingredients for charmoula in a food processor or blender, and pulse until a sauce forms. I like my sauce to still have some texture to it, so I stop before everything is puréed, but this is just my preference.
    5. Serve: place roasted eggplant on a plate, and drizzle with several spoonfuls of charmoula and several spoonfuls of tahini. Eat warm.
    6. Note: you will likely have leftover charmoula, which can be used as a sauce for fish, or grilled meats and vegetables.

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    Truffle Balsamic Vinaigrette

    Truffle Balsamic Vinaigrette

    Not everyone is a fan of truffle — it’s one of those love/hate flavors, where people seem to fall on one side of the fence or another. And I freaking love it. Truffle oil is just this magical extra oomph that takes something from normal to "oh this is amazing.”

    Like many good things, the trick is not using too much. If you’re about to eat truffle oil by the spoonful you should buckle up — that would be a LOT in one bite! In this vinaigrette, truffle oil is combined with olive oil which makes a salad dressing with just the right amount of truffle.

    In a rush, and throwing together a salad to take with me to work, I’ll often just drizzle some oil and vinegar over top of some veggies and call it good, but when I actually take the time to make a real vinaigrette it makes such a big difference (and, you can keep a jar of this dressing in the fridge for a week: time saver!).

    But this vinaigrette isn’t just any old vinaigrette…yes, it has truffle oil, but there’s more! More, in the form of:

    • Dijon mustard. It adds a bit of creaminess and the flavor of mustard is nice and sharp, adding just a tiny bit of punch to the vinaigrette

    • Shallot. Like mustard, shallot just adds a bit of extra zing. Shallots are like onions but way more mellow, and won’t leave your mouth with that “I just ate a plate full of red onion” flavor

    • Salt & Pepper. Easy peasy — but does make a difference.

    If you’re feeling extra fancy, you could add a teaspoon of minced fresh rosemary, thyme, or basil. A dash of red pepper flakes is perfect for anyone that likes a little extra heat.

    Truffle Balsamic Vinaigrette
    Truffle Balsamic Vinaigrette

    Like I said above, I like balsamic vinaigrettes (with or without truffle) on almost any salad, but here are five I recommend:

    1. Spinach salad with butternut & figs

    2. Late fall salad

    3. Arugula, peach and piquillo pepper salad

    4. Winter salad with kale apples

    5. And of course… a simple caprese salad, or like in the video below, cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella over arugula. YUM!

    If you don’t see the video player below, click here to watch, or scroll down for the full recipe.

    Truffle Balsamic Vinaigrette

    Published February 7, 2018 by
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    Serves: 8   |    Active Time: 10 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons truffle oil (look for an olive oils infused with truffle)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • Directions:

    1. Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake to combine.
    2. Drizzle over salad of choice.
    3. Store in fridge for up to 1 week.

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    Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

    Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

    This is a bit of a teaser for what’s to come on Thursday — for simplicity sake, I wanted to break out the instructions for the sauce and another recipe (plus, there are plenty of ways to use this sauce!). And no… enchiladas are not on the docket! (Though that reminds me I should make some enchiladas soon). In any case, my lips are sealed. You’ll see Thursday’s recipe soon enough!

    I first “dared” to make my own enchilada sauce while I was working in a restaurant in college. I was not the saucier, or anything close to it — more like waitress that occasionally helped with some baking - but when I was baking, I would watch the happenings of the kitchen while I slowly stirred a caramel, weighed flours, or chilled dough. It just so happened that my station was right next to the saucier, and that is what gave me the confidence to make this sauce.

    Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

    First, I realized that the marvelous sauce that was used for braising pork was as simple as puréeing some select ingredients in the blender — and then, I realized that said sauce was pretty darn close to enchilada sauce. I did a little bit of reading and next thing you know I was blending enchilada sauce every week (even without the blender lid on one time… but we’ll save that messy story for another time).

    You can use this sauce for oh so many more things than enchiladas (though using it in these leftover turkey enchiladas is perfect). In fact, I started using it to braise beef (Oofta! That recipe is old — please forgive those grainy photos. Oh what a difference three years makes), but now I’m much more into making enchilada casseroles or huevos rancheros with salsa rojo.

    Sauce is the start of many a great dish. More sauce! If any of you have ever watched Chopped, you know the judges are always talking about sauce, and with good reason. 😋

    Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

    Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

    Published September 25, 2018 by
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    Serves: 2 cups   |    Active Time: 20 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 sixteen-oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup broth (chicken, beef or veggie)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper

  • Directions:

    1. Heat coconut oil over medium-high heat in a skillet on the stove. When the oil glistens, add onion and garlic and sauté until onions are transparent and starting to brown. Remove from heat.
    2. In a blender (I use a Blendtec - affiliate link!), combine onions and garlic, diced tomatoes, broth, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Secure lid on blender and purée.
    3. Use sauce immediately or store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week.

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