Roasted Eggplant with Tahini Ranch and Hazelnut Gremolata

Don’t let corn and tomatoes overshadow prime eggplant season! Here, we roast smaller Italian eggplants until caramelized and serve them with a creamy tahini buttermilk dressing (or tahini “ranch,” if you will), a bright and crunchy hazelnut gremolata, and tongue-prickly chili oil. 

Sourcing Eggplants

Eggplants come in a variety of shapes and sizes, though most consumers in the US are most familiar with the larger “Globe” eggplants. If you can, source smaller Italian or Chinese eggplants for this recipe. You can likely find a few different types at your local farmers market during the summer months. You can certainly use larger eggplants for this recipe, just adjust cooking time accordingly.

From top to bottom: globe eggplant, Italian eggplant, Chinese eggplant, Japanese Eggplant. Image Source: Fine Cooking

What’s Gremolata? 

At its core, gremolata is an Italian green sauce made from parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, and garlic. Here, we add buttery hazelnuts for a toasty/crunchy spin on the classic. 


Roasted Eggplants with Tahini Ranch and Hazelnut Gremolata

Recipe by Molly MossCourse: Appetizers, SidesDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

servings
Total time

45

minutes

Don’t let corn and tomatoes overshadow prime eggplant season! Here, we roast smaller Italian eggplants until caramelized and serve them with a creamy tahini buttermilk dressing (or tahini “ranch,” if you will), a bright and crunchy hazelnut gremolata, and tongue-prickly chili oil. 

Ingredients

  • For the eggplant
  • 4 Italian or Chinese eggplants (about 1.4 pounds).

  • Olive oil

  • Chili oil for topping, optional

  • For the tahini ranch
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

  • 1/4 cup full fat yogurt

  • 1/8 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 tbsp Tahini

  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon

  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce (omit for vegetarian).

  • 1 tsp onion powder

  • 1 tsp celery seeds

  • 2 tbsp chopped chives

  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • For the hazelnut gremolata
  • 1/4 heaping cup whole hazelnuts. Sub pistachios if needed.

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • The juice and zest of 1 lemon

  • 1 small garlic clove, minced

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  • When the oven hits 350, place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast for about 5 minutes, or until nicely toasted. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  • While the oven preheats, cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Use a sharp knife to score a crosshatch pattern on each eggplant (see picture for reference).
  • Lightly oil the bottom of a large baking sheet and place the eggplants, cut side up, on top. Use a brush to coat the cut side of each eggplant with olive oil. Season each eggplant with salt and pepper.
  • Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. If you have a large globe eggplant, you may need to adjust the cooking time here.
  • While the eggplant cooks, whisk together all the ingredients for the tahini ranch and store in the fridge until ready.
  • For the gremolata, finely chop the hazelnuts (its Ok if some of the pieces are chunky) and combine with the parsley, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Taste, adjust seasoning as needed, and set aside.
  • Check the eggplants after 30 minutes. They should be soft and fully cooked at this point. Keep roasting for larger eggplants if they’re not fully cooked yet.
  • Set the oven to broil and continue to roast until the cut side of the eggplants are nicely browned, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove the eggplants from the oven and let cool slightly.
  • Spread the ranch over the bottom of a large serving platter and lay the eggplants on top. Top with the hazelnut gremolata and a drizzle of chili oil. Alternatively, place the eggplants directly on individual plates and drizzle with the ranch, gremolata, and chili oil. roasted eggplants

Notes

  • Hondashi is an instant dashi product. Traditionally ponzu steeps with bonito and kombu (the ingredients in dashi). Use hondashi for a shortcut. You can buy hondashi online here.
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