This Whole Baked Eggplant recipe from Andiamo will transport you to Italy

Treat yourself to a Roman holiday without leaving the house as star restaurant Andiamo share their exquisite eggplant recipe for those craving a taste from across the sea. It’s rare to see eggplant given star billing but Andiamo understands Italian cuisine. Here the eggplant is baked under scorching heat for a melt-in-the-mouth moment. The eggplant is dressed with dollops of creamy buttermilk, toasted hazelnuts, a dash of Number 29 extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs. The result is a taste and textural sensation, best served with a side of focaccia, for a little slice of Italian paradise. 

Whole Baked Eggplant with No. 29 Olive Oil, Toasted Hazelnut and Buttermilk from Andiamo
Serves 2

Ingredients
1 Large eggplant
150ml Buttermilk
¼ cup Hazel nuts
1tsp Cumin seeds
1tsp Coriander seed
1tsp Fennel seed
1tsp Black pepper corn
1tsp Sumac
¼ cup Black quinoa
50ml No. 29 extra virgin olive oil
7-8 Oregano leaves

Method
1. Strain buttermilk by lining a fine sieve with cheesecloth or you can use a Chux cloth (disposable dish cloth). Place over a bowl that will fit in your fridge. Season buttermilk with salt and pepper and add half a teaspoon of crushed garlic. Pour this into the lined sieve and place in the fridge overnight to strain the whey. The following day transfer curds to a piping bag.
2. Boil the quinoa for 20 minutes with a pinch of salt. Strain and sit on kitchen towel. For best results do this the night before so you can allow the cooked quinoa to dry out slightly.
3. Bring ½ a cup of canola oil to a high temperature and ready a fine sieve and heat proof container to catch the oil. Add cooked quinoa to the hot oil and cook for 30 seconds to puff the seeds. Strain and drain on kitchen paper until cool.
4. Toast black peppercorn, cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a pan until you can smell the aroma.
5. Lightly grind seeds and pepper in a pestle and mortar and combine with the toasted nuts, sumac, and puffed quinoa. Season with salt and set aside. 
6. Pierce eggplant with a knife then place in a hot skillet or even better a charcoal grill. Keep turning eggplant every 3-4 minutes until soft and cooked through.
7. Transfer eggplant to a serving dish and split it open to reveal the cooked steaming flesh. Drizzle with good extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pipe the buttermilk curds into random spots of the eggplant and sprinkle the hazelnut mix over the top liberally. If you have any of the nut mix you can keep in an air tight container for up to 3 months.
8. Finish with the oregano leaves, some fresh bread, if you like and a good glass of Italian wine.

Image credit: Luke Foley-Martin

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