Yotam Ottolenghi’s Roasted Eggplant with Anchovies and Oregano

High-heat roasting turns eggplant sweet and custardy.

High-heat roasting turns eggplant sweet and custardy.

 

There’s no doubt that London’s Yotam Ottolenghi is prolific.

The chef, who has reinvented Middle Eastern fare, owns a slew of restaurants, including the fine-dining Nopi and Rovi. He’s also the author of six best-selling cookbooks.

As delicious as they are, though, many of the recipes in those cookbooks require a real commitment. They tend to be recipes that a multiple pages long and require several components to assemble. They’re recipes you have to block out a good amount of time on a weekend to do.

Ottolenghi Simple

His seventh cookbook, “Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy is the antidote to that. Almost every recipe is only one page long. Some of them can be made in less than 30 minutes, and with 10 ingredients or fewer.

The 130 recipes may be less ambitious in scope, but they definitely deliver in satisfaction. With dishes such as “Tomatoes with Sumac Shallots and Pine Nuts,” “Pappardelle with Rose Harissa, Black Olives, and Capers,” “Lamb Meatloaf with Tahini and Tomatoes,” and “Sweet and Salty Cheesecake with Cherries,” they tempt with inspired flavors and no-fuss techniques.

I know there are plenty of people who shy away from eggplant and from anchovies. But “Roasted Eggplant with Anchovies and Oregano” may just sway them.

This dead-simple recipe requires only roasted sliced eggplant before tossing with a vinaigrette. That’s it.

The high-heat roasting leaves the eggplant deeply caramelized, bringing out its natural sweetness — and vanquishing any latent bitterness. The eggplant gets custardy soft. The dressing is pungent with garlic, a minty-camphor-like note from the oregano, and a perky salinity that’s not necessarily fishy. If you pour the dressing on while the eggplant is still a tad warm, it will drink it up, flavoring it through and through.

It makes for a great side to most anything. Or do as Ottolenghi suggests and top grilled sourdough slices with it.

It’s fuss-free and addictive — a no-brainer recipe to make in more ways than one.

It's a side dish, but could even work as a meatless main.

It’s a side dish, but could even work as a meatless main.

Roasted Eggplant with Anchovies and Oregano

(Serves 4 as a side)

4 medium eggplants, sliced into 3/4-inch rounds (2 lb 2 oz)

Salt

7 tablespoons olive oil

6 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 small garlic clove, crushed

Black pepper

1 tablespoon oregano leaves

1/4 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped

 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix eggplant in a large bowl with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Transfer to 2 large parchment-lined baking sheets and then brush with 5 tablespoons of oil — you want it on both sides of the discs. Bake for 35 minutes, until dark golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the anchovies, vinegar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Slowly pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, whisking continuously, until combined.

When ready to serve, finely chop the oregano and place in a large bowl along with the eggplant and parsley. Pour in the anchovy dressing, gently mix, and transfer to a platter or bowl.

From “Ottolenghi Simple” by Yotam Ottolenghi

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More Yotam Ottolenghi Recipes to Try: Squash with Chile Yogurt and Cilantro Sauce

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And: Vineyard Cake

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And: Lamb Meatballs with Warm Yogurt and Swiss Chard

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