Monday, 20 August 2007

Zucchini/Eggplant bake

NAME: _Zucchini/Eggplant bake

500g - 1kg Zucchini (or eggplant)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup water (optional)
1/2 cup chopped fresh spearmint
1 tbsp zartar or dried thyme
salt and a pinch of cumin to taste
1/2 cup grated yellow cheese (optional)
1/2 cup crumbled fetta, hamoumi, or similar cheese (optional)
2 very ripe tomatoes (optional)

Slice the zucchini or eggplant into 1cm thick slices. (If using eggplant, sprinkle generously with salt and leave to draw out the liquid for an hour. Rinse, squeeze dry. Test and if stil bitter, repeat. I find one good salting/rinsing gets most of the bitter liquid out.)

Mash or blend the spearmint and add the oils and tomato paste and mix together well. You can add a teaspoon of raw sugar or grape molasses if the tomato paste is a particularly acid one, mixing in well. You may wish to adjust the thickness with the 1/2 cup of water.

Brush the baking dish with EVOO and lay the sliced vegetable in a layer at a time. (I cut slices in half so they will fit all the way out to the edge, your choice.) Sprinkle the zartar or thyme over at each layer, and add some of the tomato paste, then when all vegetable has been laid in the dish, pour in the remaining tomato mixture.

At this stage you can either bake it as it is, or else add the sliced tomato in a layer, then the grated and crumbled cheeses.

Bake in a medium (180) oven for about 30 - 60 minutes, until the cheese is brown.

A side dish - or you can make it a main, served with rice or bourghul and some meat kofta or something.

Eggplant is the right vegetable for this dish but because of its flavour you may prefer zucchini. I've made both and I prefer the eggplant.

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