CHARRED EGG­PLANT WITH CRISPY FLAT­BREAD

Food & Drink - - ENTERTAINING WITH KIDS - BY MICHELLE LU­CAS LARVING

Whole-roast­ing egg­plant at an in­cred­i­bly high heat brings out a beau­ti­ful smok­i­ness and rich, creamy tex­ture. While this is best served at room tem­per­a­ture, it can still be made ahead of time and re­frig­er­ated; it will only help am­plify the flavours. Served with the con­trast­ing pieces of a su­per crispy flat­bread, this makes for an ad­dic­tive pair­ing.

CHARRED EGG­PLANT

6 medium egg­plant, about 4½ lbs (2.04 kg) 2 oil-packed an­chovies, drained

¼ cup (60 mL) ex­tra vir­gin olive oil, plus ex­tra 1 tsp (5 mL) lemon zest

3 tbsp (45 mL) lemon juice

1 small gar­lic clove, finely grated

⅓ cup (80 mL) finely chopped pars­ley, plus ex­tra Salt and freshly ground pep­per

½ small red chili, very thinly sliced, op­tional

CRISPY FLAT­BREAD

2 cups (500 mL) all-pur­pose flour, di­vided ¾ cup (175 mL) whole milk 1 tsp (5 mL) fen­nel seeds, toasted and lightly chopped

1½ tsp (7 mL) flaked sea salt, di­vided

1 For the charred egg­plant, ar­range racks in top and bot­tom thirds of oven. Pre­heat to 550°F (290°C).

2 Ar­range egg­plant on 2 bak­ing sheets. Roast in top and bot­tom thirds of oven, switch­ing sheets half­way through, un­til skin is black and flesh is ex­tremely soft, about 1 hour. Trans­fer to a rack and let stand un­til cool enough to han­dle, about 15 min­utes.

3 Slice each egg­plant length­wise down the cen­tre. Us­ing your fingertips, pull flesh out of skin, tear­ing roughly into bite-sized pieces. Trans­fer to a colan­der set over a bowl and let liq­uid drain, 20 min­utes.

4 On a cut­ting board, finely chop an­chovies, then mash with the side of a knife blade. Re­peat process un­til a smooth paste forms. Trans­fer to a medium bowl and com­bine with 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil, lemon zest, juice and gar­lic. Fold in drained egg­plant and pars­ley. Sea­son with salt and fresh pep­per. Trans­fer to a wide serv­ing bowl, then driz­zle with ad­di­tional olive oil, chopped pars­ley and red chili, if de­sired.

5 For the crispy flat­bread, in a medium bowl, com­bine 1 cup (250 mL) flour with milk, fen­nel seeds and ½ tsp (2 mL) salt. Slowly stir in re­main­ing 1 cup (250 mL) of flour un­til dough comes to­gether. Knead lightly to form a rough ball, then cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 15 min­utes.

6 Re­duce oven heat to 375°F (190°C). Line 2 bak­ing sheets with parch­ment.

7 Di­vide dough in 2. On a well-floured sur­face, roll 1 por­tion of dough pa­per-thin into an 11 x 16-inch (28 x 40-cm) rec­tan­gle. Cut cross­wise in half. Trans­fer halves to pre­pared sheet, spaced 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Re­peat with re­main­ing dough. Brush lightly with wa­ter, then sprin­kle with re­main­ing 1 tsp (5 mL) salt. Bake in top and bot­tom thirds of oven, switch­ing sheets half­way through, un­til golden and com­pletely crisp, 20 to 22 min­utes. Let cool for 10 min­utes be­fore break­ing into pieces. Serve with charred egg­plant.

Serves 6 to 8, makes 3 cups (750 mL) egg­plant

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