I got so excited cooking this, that I almost completely forgot to take the prep pictures. Which should tell you that you should, if you’re an eggplant fan, go ahead and make this right away. Consider it a direct missive. Waste no time – it is eggplant season and will be such through October.
This was borne out of, well, instinct, really. I was making dinner for a friend on Friday night and our initial plan was to make a stir-fry with vegetables and tofu and serve it over brown rice. But we got carried away – we made that along with leek confit, blackberry pie, and this pomegranate molasses glazed eggplant. What started out as a simple Friday night meal turned into a feast of sorts. And this was the surprise hit.
I wasn’t prepared to cook eggplant and when my friend picked it up, I automatically nodded, but did I have a plan? No.
In fact, I was all shades of disappointment with myself because I didn’t have pie crust waiting for me in the freezer, as I normally do, because I happen to get crazy last-minute urges to bake pies. Then again, it’s safe to say that I happen to have an abnormal love of pie. In fact, I have pies I’ve recently made lined up in the queue that I need to write about and I’m embarrassingly behind.
In any case, when I was amidst baking the pie (with pre-made crust, see I’m not above it!), prepping the stir-fry, and caramelizing leeks, I suddenly had an idea; I was going to bake the eggplant in an olive oil and pomegranate molasses glaze. I was going to add a spoonful of chopped ginger, a clove of garlic and a sprinkle of salt. And then, I was going to let it cook until the eggplant would get soft and impossibly buttery. That, was my plan and that’s what I stuck with.
I was a bit worried because, the whole dish was concocted in mere seconds. I had a flash of inspiration, but I had no idea what the results were going to be. But after my friend ate the near entirety of the dish, while I managed to only get a couple of forkfuls, I knew this improvisation was a hit. I loved my forkfuls and clearly, so did he.
The next day, I got to thinking about how sometimes when we improvise in the kitchen – we succeed. And other times – we fail. Both are good and necessary processes by which we learn, and yet somehow we get burned and scarred by our failures. My first-ever pie crust, an epic fail, caused me to avoid making my own crust for years. But once I got to do it again, I haven’t looked back since. Time and time again, I have to remind myself that should one of the dishes fail, all we have to do is move on, try it again and just realize that sometimes, our tempered eggs will cook, our soufflés might not rise, our cakes might sink.
The worst thing – is that we try it all over again. And if that gets us back into the kitchen, is that really quite so bad?
Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Eggplant
1 medium eggplant, sliced in half length-wise and then sliced thinly into 1/8 inch slices
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup really good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1 tsp flaky sea salt (I like Maldon)
2 tsp chopped cilantro
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a baking dish arrange your eggplant slices.
2. Mix together the remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over the eggplant. Alternatively, you can just add them into the baking dish instead, one by one.
3. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour (check for doneness – you want your eggplant to get soft and reduce in size, and the edges of the baking dish should caramelize nicely). Serve immediately garnished with cilantro.