I think I like cooking because I’m still a kid at heart. I like to chop things, slice things, burn things, play with knives, and mix strange concoctions. All of these are obviously hobbies that translate very nicely to cooking.
For some reason one of my favorite things to do is stack food. I’m not really sure why but I get a lot of pleasure out of stacking things up and seeing how high I can go. I did this with great success for my Tostado Stack!
That’s why this recipe caught my eye. Not only does it include some of my favorite flavors (eggplant, mint, feta, paprika, and cumin) but I get to stack stuff!
So I present The Eggplant Stack!
This recipe is really simple actually and has some fantastic flavors in it. I could see getting the kids involved in this one.
1) For yogurt sauce, mix together yogurt, cucumber, mint, and garlic. You could make this up to 24 hours in advance.
2) Slice eggplants into 1/2 inch slices and lay on a baking sheet. Drizzle well with olive oil and dust each piece with spice mixture (coriander, paprika, cumin (toasted)) and a pinch of salt and pepper.
3) Grill eggplants for about 4 minutes per side or bake them at 450 degrees for about 7 minutes per side. If the eggplants ever look really dry, drizzle on more olive oil.
4) Layer feta cheese and yogurt sauce in between slices of eggplant. Stake them two or three high.
Adapted from Bon Appetit May 2010.
Making the yogurt sauce
The earlier you make this sauce the better because it improves with time. In fact, if you wanted to make it 24 hours in advance that would probably be best if you could restrain yourself from eating it all before you need it.
It has just a few simple ingredients but they pack some flavor.
I left the sauce pretty chunky for this by chopping the cucumber very roughly. It should have some texture to it. Just do some chopping and then mix the yogurt, garlic, cucumber, and mint up in a big bowl!
Store this in the fridge until you need it.
Preparing the Eggplant
A lot of times when I make eggplant, especially if I use the larger eggplants, I like to salt them before cooking them which pulls out some of the bitter flavor in the vegetable (like for these eggplant parm rolls). But this recipe didn’t say anything about salting them so I skipped it.
The end product here is drizzled or brushed in olive oil and hit with some nice spices and with the yogurt sauce and everything, I didn’t notice any weird flavors from not salting the eggplant first.
One thing you do want to do though is make sure to slice the eggplant pretty thick. If it’s sliced too thin, it’ll just disintegrate while it cooks and you’ll have eggplant mush on your hands.
The eggplant slices are topped with a drizzle of olive oil and an awesome spice mixture. I was actually missing the coriander and I used whole cumin seeds (toast them for a minute in a dry pan to really bring out their flavor). The whole cumin seeds also give some nice texture to the finished dish.
Lay out your eggplant on a baking sheet and give everything a sprinkle of oil and spice mixture. Feel free to use a liberal hand with this. I also added a pinch of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to the slices.
Cooking the Eggplant
So the best way to cook this eggplant would be to grill it for 3-5 minutes on each side until they are slightly charred and tender. If you don’t have a grill (like me), you can also broil the eggplant for a few minutes on each side. If they look dry at all, just brush them with a bit more olive oil. Just watch out if you broil though because they can go from perfect to burned pretty quickly.
If, however, you have neither a grill or a broiler (like me), you’ll have to do the best with what you have which is a really hot oven. I preheated my oven to 450 degrees and cooked the eggplant for about 7 minutes per side. They turned out pretty good but I think they would’ve been worlds better on the grill.
After your eggplant comes off the grill or out from the broiler or, worst case scenario, out of a hot oven, pile on some feta and top with some sauce.
For the record, I went a little too heavy on the sauce here. But you get the idea.
I like the three eggplant stack, but that’s a pretty hardy meal. Honestly two slices with some feta and sauce in between and on top is a pretty solid meal if you pair it with some salad or maybe a grain of some sort.
I went the salad route to round out the meal.
The eggplant with the spice mixture was awesome. And I was even missing one of the spices! It was really flavorful and almost meaty even.
Of course, the best part about this meal though is getting to stack stuff high and deep.