Chermoula Eggplant with Ancient Grains Salad (4 of 5)

Chermoula is a North African Spice Rub that is used in many dishes in Moroccan cooking and the recipe for the Chermoula Eggplant is originally by the wonderful British/Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi. The Ancient Grains Salad, however, is actually inspired by the cypriot grain salad from The Hellenic Republic restaurant in Melbourne. If you ever have the chance to go there you must order it, and the pita and tzatziki are pretty amazing as well (in fact, most dishes are pretty good!). So while these two dishes are a bit of a combination of Moroccan and Greek, they actually go very well together. The salad is hearty, nutty and filling but tart and refreshing at the same time and makes a wonderful meal on it’s own or with a number of other combinations of veggies, meat or fish. I also find it one of those very flexible salads that you can throw in whatever you have at hand including different nuts, herbs or seeds and can get away with leaving 1 or 2 of the ingredients out if you don’t have them in the house. Yes, these two recipes do in have a number of ingredients, but hopefully you have many of the ingredients in your pantry already and once you make this salad, you will want to make it many times again.

Ancient grains are generally grains that were eaten many years ago, say 4,000 years ago and haven’t been engineered through many years of mass cultivation such as wheat or corn. Generally referring to “old” grains that have become popular more recently such as quinoa, amaranth, chia, and in this salad green wheat freekeh. Green wheat freekeh is actually a wheat grain but it is harvested earlier from younger wheat and then roasted as a green grain. It is a wholegrain and has a lot more nutritious benefits such as higher protein, vitamins, fibre and less processed than what we know normally as wheat (flour, white bread etc). Actually most ancient grains actually have a very good nutrition profile too. And you can definitely get Quinoa and Green wheat freekeh in the super market now.

Chermoula Eggplant with Ancient Grains Salad (1 of 5)

Chermoula Eggplant with Ancient Grains Salad (2 of 5)

Chermoula Eggplant with Ancient Grains Salad (3 of 5)

Chermoula Eggplant with Ancient Grains Salad (5 of 5)

Chermoula Eggplant Recipe
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2 garlic cloves, peeled
salt
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon skin
140ml olive oil
2 medium eggplants (long and skinny ones preferred over fat and round)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (fan forced).

In your mortar & pestle, grind together salt and garlic until you get a paste. Add the spices and preserved lemon and grind all ingredients together. Mix through the olive oil and set aside while you prepare your eggplants.

Cut your eggplants lengthways into quarters. Using a large, sharp knife score through the flesh of the eggplants in a criss-cross pattern, without cutting the skin (You do this by slicing parallel lines on a diagonal and then turning your eggplant 45 degrees and repeating). Rub the chermoula into the eggplant with your fingers ensuring the spices completely covers the eggplant and is worked into the criss-crossed grooves.

Lay the eggplant on a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven for 30-40minutes or until the flesh is soft and cooked (starts to turn slightly transparent in colour).

A note on salting eggplants:
Many people salt their eggplants before cooking which draws out the bitter fluid to the surface which can be washed away. If your eggplants are either young, or have small or not many seeds than there is really no need to salt them. If the eggplants you are using have particularly large seeds than you may like to salt the surface, let stand for 10-15minutes and wipe away the clear liquid that appears on the surface with a paper towel.

Ancient Grains Salad Recipe
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1 bunch coriander, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
1/2 red onion, finely diced (or spring onion)
1 cup cooked freekah (or cracked wheat or quinoa)
1/2 cup cooked Puy lentils
2 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp toasted slivered almonds
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp baby capers
1/2 cup dried cranberries or currants
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste

1 pomegranate, deseeded, to serve
Greek or natural yoghurt to serve

Once you have cooked your freekah and Puy lentils, allow them to cool. Combine all the ingredients except the nuts and seeds. Mix through the nuts and seeds just before serving (so they don’t go soggy) and scatter pomegranate seeds over the top and serve with natural or greek yoghurt and warm chermoula eggplant.

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2 Responses to Chermoula Eggplant with Ancient Grains Salad

  1. Joan Kilby says:

    This looks delicious! I’m always looking for great eggplant recipes so I will definitely try this one.

  2. It certainly is Joan. This is another great eggplant recipe which is a bit simpler than the chermoula one if you want more eggplant ideas:

    http://www.theculinarylibrary.com/2012/05/nasu-dengaku-japanese-miso-glazed-eggplant-recipe/

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