What better to accompany this delicious Passover appetizer than a story? After breaking bread with the nomadic Bedouins in the Sinai desert, chef Oren Toput Tagel, owner of the exotic desert eco-lodge and restaurant Eretz Arava in Zuquim, Israel, whipped up this flavorful eggplant dish, featured in photographer Steven Rothfeld’s new cookbook Israel Eats ($32; amazon.com), and added lemon, anise, and mint for a zesty touch. Not only is it kosher for the High Holiday—it’s delicious enough to make year round as a heart-healthy alternative to the requisite side of mashed potatoes. Read on for the recipe.
Roasted Eggplant with Lemon, Anise, and Mint
1 large eggplant
4 garlic cloves, crushed to paste
1 lemon, halved
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
20 to 30 anise seeds
4 to 6 mint leaves, chopped
1. Prepare the grill or preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Roast the eggplant on all four sides over grill until softened, about 30 minutes. Alternatively, set eggplant on a baking sheet and roast in oven until soft but not mushy, about 40 minutes, turning halfway through to roast evenly.
2. Set a colander in sink. Cut off 1 1/2 inches (approximately 4 cm) from top of eggplant. Place eggplant cut-side down in colander. Let drain 10 minutes.
3. Cut eggplant in half vertically. Season each half with the remaining ingredients in this order: 2 garlic cloves, salt to taste, juice from 1/2 lemon, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 10 to 15 anise seeds, 2 to 3 mint leaves. Serve immediately.