This roasted eggplant with hazelnut-redcurrant sauce is inspired by the classic Middle Eastern fesenjan chicken: softly simmered chicken in walnut and pomegranate molasses sauce. I stir redcurrant jelly into the sauce instead of pomegranate molasses and use hazelnuts instead of walnuts for a lighter touch.
The eggplant is rubbed with spices and roasted in the oven for maximum taste. The meltingly soft aubergine combined with the nutty sauce and slightly sharp sweetness of the berries make for a perfect combination. And don’t those little red currants look just like shiny red jewels?
Roasted eggplant with hazelnut-redcurrant sauce
Main course (serves 4 )
3-4 tbsp tasty olive oil
1½ tsp cinnamon powder
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
pinch of chili flakes or more / less, to taste
1 tsp salt flakes
100 g / ¾ cup hazelnuts
1 large onion, chopped finely
± 450 ml / 1 ¾ cup vegetable stock
1 cinnamon stick
± 3 tbsp. red currant jelly + extra for serving
1 bunch of parsley chopped
red currants for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400 °F. Don’t remove the green stem and cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Score the flesh of each half with crisscross lines, making sure not to cut through the skin. Mix 2 full tablespoons of oil with ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder, a good pinch of grated nutmeg, the chili, salt flakes and 1 tablespoon of red currant jelly. Place the eggplants cut side up on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Brush the flesh with the oil mixture and roast in the middle of the oven for 30-35 mins. until soft and done.
Meanwhile make the sauce. Toast the hazelnuts lightly in a dry pan. Shake on a plate and leave to cool. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a saucepan and fry the onion for ± 5 mins. until lightly browned. Keep a few pretty, whole hazelnuts aside and chop the rest very fine in a food processor. Add the ground nuts, 275 ml / 1 1/8 of the stock, the cinnamon stick, the rest of the nutmeg and 2 tablespoons of red currant jelly to the onion in the pan and simmer, covered, for ± 30 mins. Stir occasionally and add some stock if the mixture becomes too dry. Use a stick mixer and blend the sauce until smooth. Add ± 1 extra tbsp of olive oil to the sauce.
Divide the eggplants between the plates and top with some sauce and red currant jelly. Garnish with some extra red currants and parsley. Serve the rest of the sauce on the side
This recipe for Eggplant with hazelnut-redcurrant sauce is from my Dutch book Dosia Plukt Bessen.