CHARRED EGGPLANT WITH CRISPY FLATBREAD
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.
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
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