All summer long, I have been obsessing over the stunning eggplants at the farmers markets. Beautiful shades of light and speckled purple, striped and red and blank white. I never picked up a single one because I was totally uninspired as to what to do with them. Then I saw Sarah’s beautiful Heirloom Tomato Eggplant Caprese Stacks. They looked bright and summery and craveable and reminded me of a strained yogurt and spicy tomato eggplant thing I used to make. I don’t know what it was called, or even where I got the recipe, but I do recall that it was of Middle Eastern origin. And I had recently acquired a generous amount of sumac, my favorite all-time Middle Eastern spice. I think I like sumac even better than I like thyme. So sumac + eggplant + farmer’s market whatever = fattoush something.
I used these pretty Dancer eggplants, shining in a lovely amethyst hue. After roasting, they were so creamy, almost melting on my tongue. I never want another supermarket eggplant again. But I’ll probably change my tune once the farmer’s market closes for the season and I’m huffing around the Kroger produce section, kicking at the wheels of my cart. I actually like Kroger produce, but nothing can ever compare to fresh-from-the-dirt. There is a nice tomato-headed kid who always helps me out, showing me cotton candy grapes and such. Digging up the plumpest Brussels sprouts when he catches me poking at the bruised brown-leaf ones. So I guess going back won’t be so bad. Maybe.
Since I love sumac so much, I made a pseudo-hummus out of lemons and chickpeas and sumac. A little garlic and salt. It really brings makes the Middle Easter flavor spark, like a hot hum of the last days of summer.
I used beautiful Dancer eggplants, a gradient white-lilac variety known for their low bitterness. If you use darker eggplants such as Nadia, Galine, or Traviata, you may want to increase the salt-and-sit time to 20-25 minutes.
- about 2 lbs worth of eggplant (This was 5 medium eggplants for me)
- 8 oz cherry tomatos, sliced
- 1 large cucumber, or 1.5 smaller cucumbers
- 5 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 cup parsley, minced
- 6 green onions, top parts only, thinly sliced
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 scant tsp microplane grated garlic
- 1 1/4 tbsp sumac powder, plus more for sprinkling
- salt to taste
- olive oil
- Cut the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. Sprinkle both sides with salt and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 450.
- Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Lightly drizzle the slices with olive oil as well. (very lightly)
- Bake for 10 minutes, flip, and bake for 10 more minutes
- While the eggplant is baking, blend the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, and sumac, into a smooth paste. Add salt to taste.
- Place a single layer of slightly overlapping eggplant slices in a square (about 8x8) This will be about half of the eggplant slices
- Spoon on a layer of the chickpea-sumac paste and delicately spread.
- Add layers as follows: cucumber, radish, sprinkle of parsley, sprinkle of green onion, tomato, sumac paste, cucumber, radish, parsley, green onion, tomato, sumac paste, and then top it all off with the remaining eggplant.
- Sprinkle with sumac and garnish lightly with additional radish, parsley, onion, and cucumber.
- Serve with pita or soft corn tortillas.