I was having lunch with a friend who was telling me about her recent visit to an interstate branch of her office. One staff member was so excited that she was visiting that he brought in his slow cooker and began preparing a dish that he had become known for. They were pork ribs that were slow cooked for hours until they fell off the bone. These ribs were so soft and divine that even the brown bone could be eaten along with the meat. It was as good an excuse for the office to congregate and eat the ribs and that evening, the staff gathered to eat the ribs.
"It was so hard to tell him that I'm a vegetarian" Jennifer said smiling at the sweet gesture and the lost ribs.
It would be times like that where I couldn't be a vegetarian. I adore pork ribs and the fact that a colleague had spent hours making it for a visit meant that if I were to be one, I would be a very bad vegetarian eating meat when I could make an excuse for it. Still, Jennifer maintained her vegetarianism and the ribs would be a sweet gesture but nothing more. "I can't vouch for them personally but everyone else seemed to love them."
However there are times when I could be a vegetarian. And eating this dish is one of them. It's an adaption of the Ottolenghi eggplant and pomegranate dish. I call it a side dish but you could of course have it on its own. What I loved about it is that it uses the fantastic Autumnal eggplant and it ends up so silky and creamy against the fresh herbs and tangy pomegranate and yogurt. It's also ideal because it can be served cold, warm or hot. I usually just taste dishes and give the lion's share to Mr NQN with his voracious appetite but with this dish I held firm and ate my share, it's that good.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you like hanging out with your work colleagues outside of work hours?
Eggplant With Pomegranate and Yogurt
Preparation time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
4 medium sized eggplant (I prefer the medium sized ones as the really large ones can be bitter)
Oil for brushing
1/2 cup natural yogurt
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, pepitas or slivered almonds
fresh parsley and basil
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Slice eggplant into 1 cm or 1/2 inch piece slices and line a baking tray with parchment. Brush the top of the eggplant with oil and bake for 15 minutes. Take out of oven, turn eggplant slices over and brush the other side with oil and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until golden brown. You can allow this to cool or go onto the next step (this is delicious served hot, warm or cold). You can also toast the seeds or nuts after this in the oven at the same temperature for 10 minutes.
Step 2 - Place the eggplant on a serving plate and drizzle with the yogurt, pomegranate seeds, seeds or nuts and fresh herbs. Season with a little salt and pepper.