Last night I made dinner for my mother's 83rd birthday. I know my mother likes cooking for us at her home-- because mothers like being mothers. But I like cooking for the woman who cooked for me for so many years.
It wasn't nearly as hot in Venice, CA as it was in the rest of LA, or the rest of the States. The temperature hit 75 degrees, maybe. But that made it hot enough to come up with a menu that was fast, light and didn't heat up the kitchen. I also wanted to use up the rainbow chard, lemons and tomatoes from the garden. I made Greek Salad, Rainbow Chard with Onion and Lemon, Eggplant with Mint Yogurt and Harissa Oil and Grilled Wild Salmon.
The eggplant was my mom's favorite, so I'm passing on the recipe. A birthday present to her, back to you.
[RECIPE] Eggplant with Mint Yogurt and Harissa Oil
3 medium eggplants (I used a slender variety)
2 cups Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
2 T. chopped chives or scallions
3 T. chopped fresh mint
3 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
Harissa or Chili Oil*
Heat a gas or charcoal grill. While it's heating, blend together yogurt, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper.
Place whole eggplants on grill. Cook, covered, about 7 minutes, until soft. Turn and finish cooking until eggplants are very soft and the skin is just beginning to char.
Remove to serving platter and slice eggplants lengthwise. Using a fork, mash the soft, hot bellies. Drizzle with olive oil, then spoon yogurt mix into each eggplant.
Drizzle with harissa oil, and serve hot, warm or room temperature.
*Harissa is a North African chili sauce. The oil in it separates and is very flavorful. You can also mix some store-bought harissa or other Middle Eastern chili paste (schug, harif) or sauce with a little oil and use that. If this all sounds like a big hassle, just dust the eggplants with paprika and call it a day. The brand I like is made by Pereg. Here's a picture. It is schug, a Yemenite hot sauce, but it tastes more like harissa than the schug I used to eat in Jerusalem.