I am going to hazard a guess and say that right now, in the dead of August, you are probably not interested in a recipe that involves a lot of time in the kitchen, especially time that is spent frying, blanching, peeling and simmering.
I know. Neither am I.
But the thing is, when I discover a way to treat eggplants and tomatoes as good as this, a way to turn them into veritable gold, I feel obliged to share it, trouble notwithstanding. In fact, this jammy hybrid of two of summer’s most beloved vegetables is so good, I’ve been making it almost once a week, despite the many steps involved. And so, although you are probably saving your tomatoes to eat with burrata, and your eggplants for lasagna, I think you should reconsider. Because this, this is worth it.
The recipe is straightforward, if somewhat time-consuming and dish-dirtying. Eggplants are sliced, salted and fried, and then combined with a mixture of garlic, paprika and parsley. Tomatoes are blanched, peeled, and seeded, and then added to a mixture of sauteed onion, jalapeno and rosemary. Finally, the eggplants are added to the simmering, softening tomatoes, along with sweet date honey and a sharp red wine vinegar.
And there you have it. Piles of dishes to be done, and a velvety, silky, absolutely wonderful jam.
It is spicy, flavored with paprika, cayenne and jalapeno, and lush with flavor, from the acidic tomatoes to the mildly sweet, creamy eggplants. Hints of rosemary, a sharp note of garlic, and from the dates, just enough sweetness to even it out, all come through to make a dip that would be perfect on a mezze platter, and not out of place on a charcuterie board, either.
Our favorite way to eat this is simple: a healthy dollop of this jam on fresh, crusty bread, with a drizzle of tahini, and a few olives on the side. But we’ve also enjoyed this along salads, on (merguez) sausages, and as a topping for burgers, all of which, once you try them, will make perfect sense.*
Happy August! And happy jam- making.
*Well, the amount of dishes won’t. But I promise you this jam is worth it! Just, you know, hire a dishwasher.
Yield: around 1 quart
Slightly adapted from the AOC Cookbook
Why I love this recipe: salting the eggplants draws out their bitterness and makes them tender and sweet. Blanching the tomatoes makes peeling and seeding them a breeze, which in turns leads to the silkiest, most wonderfully textured jam, which is good with everything from hummus and tahini on rustic bread to merguez sausages with couscous.
Notes: eggplants are actually classified as berries, due to the small seeds within them. Those seeds are related to tobacco and contain (a harmless amount of) nicotine, which is what makes eggplant so bitter. Don’t skip the salting in this recipe- it works wonders in transforming the eggplants. Eggplants also act as sponges, drinking up everything in sight; namely, the oil in the pan. You’ll have to keep adding more oil so they don’t stick to the pan and they brown nicely. I’ve listed an approximate amount of oil below but you may need less or more. Be the judge.
For the eggplant:
- 2 medium globe eggplants
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- approx. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
For the tomato jam:
- 6-7 medium tomatoes
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 jalapeno pepper, halved, seeded and diced
- 1 large, finely diced onion
- 1 teaspoon silan (date honey)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- eggplant recipe, above
- Cut the eggplants into 1/2″ slices, score each slice, and season with 1 tablespoon kosher salt.
- Let sit 10 minutes, and then dry with paper towels. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Swirl 3 tablespoons olive oil into each pan, and wait 1 minute.
- Add the eggplant to the pans in a single layer. Once the slices start to turn slightly opaque, 2-3 minutes, turn the eggplant over and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes adding more olive oil as you go, until tender and thoroughly browned. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet.
- Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch chunks, and toss in a large bowl with the paprika, cayenne, and salt. Mince the garlic with a pinch of salt, and add it to the eggplant with the chopped parsley.
- Cut an “x” on the bottom of each tomato, and blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 40 seconds. Cool the tomatoes in a bowl of ice water, and then use your fingers to slip off the skins. They should slip off easily.
- Remove the cores, and cut each tomato in half horizontally. Squeeze the tomato halves cut-side down over a strainer set in a bowl.
- Scoop the seeds out with your fingers, and discard them. Chop the tomatoes coarsely, and reserve the juice.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Swirl in the olive oil, add the rosemary and jalapeno, and heat for another minute.
- Add the onion, season with the salt, and some pepper, and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes, their juice, the silan, and the vinegar.
- Cook for 10 to 12 minutes on a medium-high heat, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes are cooked.
- Add the eggplant to the pan, turn up the heat, and cook for another 6 to 8 minutes, stirring often until well incorporated. Remove the rosemary.
- Let cool and spoon into bowls to use as a dip, spread, or side. Can be stored in the fridge for 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.