Eggplant steaks

A boldly dramatic side dish, this easy way with eggplant is substantial enough to stand on its own.

eggplant-steaks-with-harissa-and-minted-yoghurt.jpg

I've previously published my way with baby eggplants and been encouraged by the response to it to offer up my favourite treatment of their full-grown versions. It's a simple transformation that ratchets up an already wonderful vegetable to another level.

There's something compelling about the smoky depth that eggplant achieves after a roundtrip through the oven, so unexpected, really, when you encounter that pale, spongey flesh in its raw form.

Against the thick slabs of meltingly soft eggplant, a hit of spicy fire in the form of harissa. You can make your own – a two-minute job – with my raw harissa recipe, perfect here, or use a good quality paste from a jar. To cool the fire, but still with a sprightly life of its own, a dollop of minted yoghurt.

As you can see, this makes for a dramatic side dish, although it's so substantial – meaty, even – just the way it is that I prefer it on its own, sometimes as a theatrical starter, more often as a standalone little Middle Eastern–flavoured feast in miniature. To follow, and as balance to its boldness, something delicate and sweet: rose panna cotta, headily scented and dreamily voluptuous, would be my go-to dessert.


Eggplant steaks

 

Serves 2.

1 eggplant
1 tablespoon harissa
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt flakes, to serve
lemon wedges, to serve

for the minted yoghurt:
125ml (½ cup) Greek yoghurt
¼ cup fresh mint leaves

Set your oven to 200°C (400°F).

Slice the eggplants in half lengthways. Score a criss-cross pattern into the flat side with the point of a knife. Place them cut side up on a baking tray.

Mix the olive oil and harissa together in a small bowl or cup. Divide between the eggplants, spreading with the back of a spoon. Roast for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the mint and mix into the yoghurt.

When the eggplants are ready, sprinkle with a little sea salt and transfer to plates. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over and a generous dollop of the minted yoghurt.