Black is beautiful!

After one of my favourite cookbook authors, Yotam Ottolenghi, released his latest book “NOPI” in 2015 my husband had no longer to worry about a Christmas present for me. The book is named after one of Yotam`s restaurants in London where he and Ramael Scully cook in a Middle Eastern – Asian fusion style.

Black Garlic 1

As I share Yotam`s passion for eggplants, already the first recipe caught my attention: “Roasted Aubergine with black garlic, pine nuts and basil”. But it took a little while and a few trips until we had this one finally on our plates as black garlic was hard to find.

The first trip on the way to this dish lead us straight to London into the NOPI, when we visited Selina & Jan. It was a totally delicious evening but without black garlic.

The next trip took us to Klingenberg, where Ingo Holland has his extraordinary spice shop and yes – he is selling black garlic as a powder, which is pretty expensive but adds a lovely sweet-garlicy tone to several dishes without the side effects of “normal garlic”. The problem: Yotam recommends 50g black garlic in his recipe – that’s not affordable with Ingo´s black gold.

Our last trip took us on an Easter holiday to Cadaqués, Catalonia, Spain. I could write a whole article about the beauty of this place but that´s not the task in the moment. Searching for some ingredients for dinner we saw it sitting there in the shelf in the local supermarket: Black garlic (the whole bulb and also a powder), affordable. We imported it to Cologne and on the weekend after our return we had it finally on our plates: “Roasted Aubergine with black garlic, pine nuts and basil” – it was worth to wait! And guess what our local supermarket is selling now? I hope this won´t impair our wanderlust!

Ingredients (serves 6 as a starter):

For the aubergines: 

  • 5 medium aubergines, sliced into slices
    120 ml olive oil plus some extra to serve
    150 – 200g Greek yogurt (we prefer sheep´s yogurt)
  • 10g basil
  • 20g pine nuts, roasted
  • some pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

For the black garlic dressing:

  • 50g black garlic cloves
  • 1,5 tsp Harissa (I uesed 1 tsp Sambal Oelek)
  • 1 tsp pomegranate syrup (I used 2 tsp pomegranate vinegar and skipped the lemon juice instead)
    2½ tsp lemon juice
    7 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced (30g)
  • ¼ tsp Isot Biber (I used Piment d`Espelette)
  • ½ tsp dark cocoa powder
  • 50 ml olive oil

Black Garlic 2

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 220C° (fan heat).
  • Place the aubergine slices in a large bowl with 120 ml olive oil, almost one tbsp of salt and a good grind of black pepper.
  • Mix well and place them on two large baking trays lined with greaseproof paper: Skin side down and side to side (this part takes a moment but the result is worth the effort). Roast in the oven until golden-brown and completely soft – about 30 – 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  • Place all the ingredients for the dressing into a food processor and blend them until you have a smooth paste.
  • Combine the cold aubergines with the dressing and let everything rest at room temperature for an hour, mix carefully from time to time. You could also serve it straight away but the flavours will deepen with the time and the taste will be rounder.
  • Serve on greek yogurt with the roasted pine nuts, basil and some pomegranate seeds as desired.