There is very little rhyme or reason when it comes to my reactions to certain examples of international foods intermingling. A burrito filled with hummus? No. A taco filled with bulgogi and pickled vegetables? Yes. It’s tough to pinpoint what exactly dictates where I choose to draw my particular lines concerning foods that should never meet, but I know trouble when I see it. Don’t ever ask me about the time a friend of mine was waxing nostalgic about the Tunnbrödsrulle, a Swedish innovation that involves wrapping a hot dog in flatbread, then topping it with mashed potatoes, shrimp salad, and lettuce. No, no, no.
Sometimes, however, the collision of differing cuisines can end up being simply magical, as in the case of this light and summery bruschetta. Eggplant and Morocco are no strangers to one another, of course, but the preferred bread in Morocco leans more towards the style of flatbread, less in the direction of a baguette. Which brings me to another point about this particular dish: can it truly be called bruschetta if it is not only spiced with cumin and cilantro, but also served upon a bread that is not Italian, but French?
I admit, I don’t know. But I do know that when you’re in the mood for a dinner that is representative of a tangible a taste of summer, you’d be hard pressed to do better than this. Chunks of delicate eggplant and bright peppers are sautéed with smoky spices, then given added dimension with a splash of tangy vinegar and lemon juice. When eaten on slices of lightly grilled baguette on a warm summer night, it’s a savory, crunchy meal that, paired with a glass of wine, makes for a winning combination.
Moroccan Eggplant Bruschetta
1 large eggplant, finely diced
2 bell peppers, finely diced (orange, yellow, or red bell peppers, being sweeter than their green counterparts, work best here)
1 medium zucchini, finely diced
½ medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed, and finely diced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
additional olive oil, for brushing
In a large pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When oil starts to shimmer, add eggplant, peppers, zucchini, onion, garlic, and cilantro. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cumin, cayenne, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, sugar, and tomato paste. Stir to combine, then cover and lower heat to medium low. Simmer for 15 minutes.
While the eggplant is simmering, slice a baguette into ½-inch thick slices. Very lightly brush each slice of bread with a bit of olive oil, then, on a preheated grill pan or on an outdoor grill, lightly grill slices of bread for roughly 1 minute on each side, until bread is nicely browned at the edges.
Turn off heat under eggplant. Remove cover from pan, and allow eggplant to sit for at least five minutes, stirring occasionally, so the juices have time to cool down a bit. Spooned atop slices of grilled baguette, this is delicious served warm, at room temperature, or cold.
|About the contributor:|
|Elizabeth Miller is a freelance writer who runs Savory Salty Sweet, a food and kitchen appreciation website. She also writes the Melting Pot column here on Indie Fixx, which appears bimonthly on Fridays. Read more about her on the contributors’ page.|