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Eggplant with Sweet-Sour Onions & Pickled Cherries (Visneli Patlican Bayildi)

  • 45 m
  • 3 h
Gamze Ineceli
“This layered dish features super-tender roasted eggplant and sweet sautéed onions spiked with tart and fruity pomegranate molasses. Serve with pita as part of a mezze course or as a side with a larger meal.”

Ingredients

    • 2½ pounds eggplant, trimmed
    • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
    • 2 cups grapeseed or canola oil
    • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
    • 1½ pounds red onions, sliced
    • ¼ cup pomegranate molasses (see Tips)
    • ¼ cup water, plus more as needed
    • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
    • 1½ teaspoons minced fresh ginger, divided
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • ½ cup pitted fresh or dried sour cherries (see Tips) or dried cranberries
    • ¼ cup tart cherry juice
    • ¼ cup white-wine vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  • 1 Peel eggplant to leave alternating purple stripes. Halve lengthwise and slice into ¾-inch pieces. Sprinkle both sides with allspice.
  • 2 Line a baking sheet with three layers of paper towels. Heat oil in a medium cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add one-third of the eggplant in a single layer and cook, turning once, until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining eggplant in 2 more batches. Sprinkle the eggplant with ¼ teaspoon salt. Let the oil cool; save for another use or discard. Wipe out the skillet.
  • 3 Combine onions, pomegranate molasses, water, tomato paste, ¾ teaspoon ginger, sugar and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and the juices are thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Add more water, 2 tablespoons at a time, if necessary to prevent burning toward the end.
  • 4 Spread half the onions in the skillet. Top with half the eggplant, pressing to evenly pack it down. Repeat with the remaining onions and eggplant. Place a plate directly on top to weight the layers down. Bring to a simmer over high heat then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until the liquid thickens and begins to reduce, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully remove the plate. Let cool completely, about 2 hours.
  • 5 Meanwhile, combine cherries (or cranberries), cherry juice, vinegar and the remaining ¾ teaspoon ginger in the saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for 1 minute. Pour into a bowl.
  • 6 Carefully invert the skillet onto a serving dish. Serve the eggplant topped with the fruit mixture, mint and cilantro.
  • To make ahead: Refrigerate pickled cherries (Step 5) for up to 2 days.
  • Tips: Pomegranate Molasses: Made from reduced tart pomegranate juice, this dark red syrup adds sweetness and acidity. Use it up: Glaze roast meat; stir into tea; drizzle over roasted vegetables; make muhammara.
  • Dried Sour Cherries: Also known as dried tart cherries, they have a lip-puckering flavor. Use it up: Stir into granola or oatmeal.
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