Roasted Eggplant with Garlicky Granola and Strained Yogurt
Published August 22, 2018
It’s the end of August and the markets are bursting with sun-ripened food. I have been cooking in Naramata, B.C., for the past three weeks and the Penticton Farmer’s Market is hands down one of the most amazing places I’ve ever shopped for ingredients at. For starters, a two block stretch is devoted entirely to organically farmed produce. Not even the incredible 2.5-kilometre long Saturday market in Arles, one of the most beautiful and abundant I have ever been to in France, can boast that. Also the farmers are incredible – passionate and dedicated, each specializing in something a little different and ready to share what they know and love about the food they grow. It is heaven.
One of the best things about shopping the market is how much it changes each week. The variety is inspiring and guaranteed to keep any good cook on their toes. Last week we came across the cutest little eggplants and just knew we had to buy the whole lot. Lucky we did, because this week there were none to be seen.
Cooking eggplants can be daunting, involving salting the vegetable to mitigate its natural bitterness. If you don’t want to deal with this step, ask your farmer about less-harsh varieties. You are sure to find some.
The most important part of preparing eggplants is ensuring they’ve been cooked enough. They should be as soft as the softest pillow and not the least bit spongy or cottony in texture. As eggplants are made up of about 90 per cent water, rotating often while cooking helps achieve a more evenly roasted result, rather than just ending up steaming them.
Labneh, a Middle Eastern-style strained yogurt, is a super easy way to take plain yogurt to a new level. Often mistaken for cheese, this thick and creamy delight works great as a base for both sweet and savoury toppings. Start with high-fat organic yogurt and allow to strain overnight in a cheesecloth. It is important to check back after the first hour or so to make sure the liquid draining is clear. If it is flecked with white, you may not have layered the cheesecloth enough and be unintentionally losing actual yogurt instead of just the whey.
Link to recipe here.