Treat yourself to a Roman holiday without leaving the house as Herne Bay favourite Andiamo shares its exquisite eggplant recipe. It might be rare to see eggplant given star billing, but you’ll be a convert after trying this dish. Eggplant is grilled under on scorching until it melts in the mouth and 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.
Andiamo’s Whole Grilled Eggplant with No. 29 Olive Oil, Toasted Hazelnut and Buttermilk Recipe
½ tsp garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper, to season
¼ cup black quinoa
½ cup canola oil
Toasted Hazelnut Mix
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
¼ cup hazelnuts, roasted
1 tsp sumac
1 large eggplant
50ml No. 29 extra virgin olive oil
7-8 oregano leaves
Salt and pepper, to season
Cheesecloth or Chux cloth
Mortar and pestle
Optional: Charcoal grill
The day before you want to cook the eggplant:
1. You’ll need to strain the buttermilk, so start by lining a fine sieve with a cheesecloth — or you can use a Chux cloth (disposable dishcloth). Place this over a bowl that will fit in your fridge.
2. Season the buttermilk with salt and pepper and add half a teaspoon of crushed garlic. Pour this into the lined sieve and place it in the fridge overnight to strain the whey.
The day of cooking the eggplant:
1. The following day, transfer the curds still in the sieve to a piping bag.
2. Cook the quinoa according to packet instructions with a pinch of salt. Strain and spread the quinoa out on a kitchen towel. For best results, you can do this the night before so you 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 heatproof container to catch the oil. Add cooked quinoa to the hot oil and cook for 30 seconds to puff the seeds. Strain using the sieve and heatproof container and drain on kitchen paper until cool.
4. Toast the black peppercorns, cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a pan until you can smell the aroma.
5. Lightly grind the seeds and pepper in a pestle and mortar, then combine with the roasted hazelnuts, sumac, and puffed quinoa. Season with salt and set aside.
6. Pierce eggplant with a knife then place on a hot skillet or, even better, a charcoal grill. Keep turning the eggplant every 3-4 minutes until soft and cooked through.
7. Transfer the eggplant to a serving dish and split it open to reveal the cooked steaming flesh. Drizzle with 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 airtight 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.