I've been watching Julia Child's show all afternoon while sitting home alone and being sick. This has got to be the best thing I could be watching right now. I'm both entertained and amazed. Have you seen this woman work? She's absolutely hilarious. Several things have occurred to me:
1. This woman is drunk. And if she's not drunk, someone is slipping her something.
2. She totally dropped half of that giant potato pancake on the floor when she tried to flip it. This supports the first thought of intoxication.
3. I know it's in black and white, but that french onion soup is BURNT. And smoking. This warms my heart because it doesn't matter how great in the kitchen you are, you can still burn things. If Julia can do it, we can do it.
Fortunately for me I was sober when I made my eggplant dish (though not nearly as entertaining, I'm sure). My sobriety contributed to it not being burnt. And I didn't have to flip it (although I did have to toss it in the pan a few times, which was pretty dicey).
Eggplants get a bad rap. Often viewed as slimy, mushy, or tough, those who love them are forever trying to convince those who do not to change their minds.
Case. In. Point.
Tips: Chop up your eggplant into 1/2 inch pieces. Smaller surface area speeds up cooking, which prevents tough eggplant. Conversely, cooking it with the tempeh and sweet potato in the oven prevents mushiness. This is good because mushy may be the bigger turnoff, so it's best to avoid that at all costs.
I've also made a garlic paste with coarse sea salt and minced garlic. Chopped, pressed, and chopped again, garlic paste will ensure you don't get giant hunks of garlic on your fork, allowing you to just enjoy the flavor of everything.
Everything marinates for a little while and then gets roasted, topped with goat cheese and cilantro, and fed to the masses. And I do mean masses... this recipe made a lot because I doubled it, thinking it wouldn't be enough as a side for 8 people. Be prepared to share. Or don't. Eat it all week.
Okay... so I've been holding out. There is a secret ingredient I haven't mentioned yet (and also forgot to photograph).
This... is life changing. Thick, syrupy, and delicately balanced between sweet and tart, pomegranate molasses makes the meanest marinade you've ever tried. It pairs well with both savory and spicy, and I ended up throwing in a dash (or three) of hot chili oil to compliment it. Winning combo.
I'd suggest picking up some of this deep purple syrup at your Whole Foods or Fresh Market. You'll find it near the sweeteners. Maybe drizzle it on your vanilla bean ice cream. Maybe add it to your Asian stir fry. Just play.
And... try not to drop any of it on the floor. Like Julia.
Roasted Eggplant & Tempeh with Pomegranate and Goat Cheese
Adapted slightly from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
1 medium eggplant (or a long asian one, if you can find it), cut into 1/2 inch chunks
8 oz tempeh, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
several dashes chili oil (to taste)
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
1/3 cup olive oil
a handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
crumbled goat cheese, for sprinkling on top
*preheat the oven to 350 degrees*
In a large bowl, combine the eggplant, tempeh, sweet potato and lemon zest. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet by drizzling in some olive oil to coat.
On a cutting board, sprinkle the salt over the garlic. Using a chef's knife, chop, scrape, and press the salt into the garlic until it forms a paste. Combine the paste in a bowl with the red pepper flakes, chili oil and pomegranate molasses. While briskly whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until completely combined. Taste it. At this point you can add either salt or pepper, more red pepper flakes, or chili oil until it's exactly the way you want it. Just make sure you taste it before you call it "done".
Drizzle 2/3 of the glaze over the vegetables and toss thoroughly to combine. Spread out onto the prepared baking sheet and try to keep it an even layer all the way across. Roast at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Make sure to stir everything around at the halfway point. It will be done once everything has caramelized and the eggplant is fork-tender.
To serve, place everything in a large serving bowl, drizzle the rest of the glaze over top, and sprinkle on the cilantro and goat cheese. Best served warm or at room temperature.