by Harrison Gessow
This recipe is inspired by a legendary dish at Lil’ Frankie’s in the Lower East Side, NYC. They roast a whole eggplant in a pizza oven and dress it simply with high-quality olive oil and black salt. We don’t have a pizza oven, fancy olive oil, or black salt, and chances are that you don’t either.
Instead, we mimic the pizza oven using a bit of home oven technique and we add a punchy tahini sauce, reinterpreting our inspiration in a more Mediterranean direction.
Serve this dish as a hearty appetizer for a small group or as a whole meal for two.
Cook Time: 30 min | Serves 2 As a meal or 4 as an appetizer
1 medium eggplant
1 small clove garlic, minced or crushed
.5 tsp ground cumin
1 lemon, halved
2 heaping tbsp tahini
2 tbsp water
1-2 tbsp leafy herbs, chopped (we suggest cilantro, parsley, and/or basil)
Pita or Crusty Bread
- Place a cast iron pan or sheet tray in your oven and preheat to 500°F. Remove the leaves from the stem end of the eggplant. You don’t have to slice off the entire stem, as it adds to the final presentation of the dish. And don’t slice or chop the eggplant! We are going to roast the whole darn thing!
- While the oven is preheating, make the tahini sauce by combining the garlic, cumin, juice of half the lemon, tahini, water, and herbs. Whisk the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Once the oven has preheated, open it up and carefully place the eggplant in the preheated pan.
- Roast the eggplant for 15-20 minutes (turning over occasionally) until it comfortably collapses to the touch. When the eggplant has reached this texture, remove it from the oven and let it rest, undisturbed, for 10-15 minutes on a plate.
- When ready to serve, place the eggplant on your serving plate and butterfly it by cutting an incision down the middle and opening it up. Gently mash the exposed eggplant flesh with a fork. Drizzle the tahini sauce on top along with a generous pour of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
- Serve garnished with the remaining lemon and some toasted pita or crusty bread.
Harrison Gessow works full-time in Search Engine Marketing, and he spends his free time crafting and devouring easy-to-prepare plant-based recipes. Stephanie Rae Davis, his fiancee and partner-in-plants, is a preschool teacher and multi-disciplinary artist that creates illustrations for their recipes. They are on a mission to prove that plant-based cooking is both approachable and exciting by combining simple, technique-driven recipes with artwork that serves to invite the reader rather than scare them off.
You can find more of their recipes at Imadeaveganfoodblog.com and by following their Instagram account @imadeaveganfoodblog. You can find more of Steph’s artwork (and the occasional photo of both of them) at @stephraestudio on Instagram.