Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Eggplant Nectarine Jam

What?!? Weird, right? But no… it is so good, you must try it! Especially if you have friends named Melissa and Sandra who spoil you with eggplants from their gardens.

Due to my most recent shoulder injury during a yoga class last Thursday, I stayed home to convalesce the next day. What a great teacher I am, already missing school not even a month into the school year. In my defense though, I could not imagine being at work with my shoulder feeling loose like it would fall off if I did one false move.

In order to make myself feel better, I decided to make some eggplant jam. My friend, Jamie, shared a recipe link on her Facebook wall for David Lebovitz' recipe and I was so intrigued.

So, I started off following the original recipe closely. One of the very few changes I made was using both cinnamon and allspice instead of choosing between both as the recipe required. The other was to lessen the eggplants’ baking time by about two minutes since my eggplant slices were a little too thin.

The salting and draining of the eggplant takes time but is important. Salting eggplant slices draws out its moisture and releases the bitter flavor that eggplants naturally have and also helps them stay firm when cooked.

When I was ready to do the last step which was cooking the seasoned mashed eggplant in hot oil, I decided that there was too much sauce and was suddenly afraid that the result might be a super spicy jam. And of course, I really wanted to make something on the sweet side, like chutney.

So, on impulse, I pulled out the last of our nectarines and a nub of ginger from the refrigerator. After slicing the nectarines and taking bites from each to savor the last of summer’s glory, I tossed it in the large bowl and hoped against hope that the gamble would be worth sacrificing three perfect nectarines for. I peeled the ginger, chopped it roughly, mashed it to release the flavors, and then added it into the bowl as well. Everything then went into the pan of hot oil and was cooked until reduced to a thick goodness.

The light texture and flavor of eggplants complement really well with the juicy nectarines. I love the spices that added such a rich flavor to the jam and the fragrance and lingering taste of ginger.

This is a well-spiced and hearty jam! Eggplants meet nectarines in a delightful combination of savory and sweet.

Sweet, spiced, and everything nice!  

Eggplant Nectarine Jam (Makes 1 jar of jam)
Adapted from David Lebovitz’ Eggplant Jam

3 eggplants, the long and thin kind
Kosher salt
olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp harissa powder
¼ cup water
3 nectarines, sliced
nub of ginger, peeled, roughly chopped and mashed
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
¼ tsp salt (or more) to taste

Cut the eggplants in half and then slice each half lengthwise to get three flat slices. Moderately sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt. Move the eggplants to a colander and allow to drain for at least 30minutes.

Meanwhile, generously coat two baking sheets with olive oil, using a cooking brush or your palms.

Then, prepare the sauce. In a large bowl, mix together the garlic, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, harissa, and water. Set aside. In a separate small, ceramic bowl, squeeze 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and set aside.

When the 30 minutes is almost up, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the eggplant slices on the greased baking sheets and bake for about 22 minutes, turning each slice halfway through baking time.

While the eggplants are baking, prepare the nectarines and ginger. Slice the nectarines and then peel, chop, and mash the ginger. Set aside. Roughly chop 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley and set aside.  

When baking time is over, turn the oven off and take the baking sheets out. Move the baked eggplants into the sauce bowl and mash using a potato masher or a fork, making sure to mix everything together.

Toss in the nectarine slices and ginger and continue to mash and mix. There is no need to super mash the nectarines, if thick chunks remain, let it be (you will love the big, sweet bites later). Make sure everything is well-combined.

Coat the bottom of a large pan with olive oil and turn the stove on to medium high. When the oil is hot (but not smoking), move the eggplant-nectarine mixture with all the liquid into the pan. Stir every now and then and cook for 15 minutes, until reduced to a thick paste.

Stir in the lemon juice, parsley, and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cook for 5 more minutes. If you wish to add more salt, feel free to do so. Turn off the heat and your jam is ready.

It is best to serve this delicious jam warm.

This jam may also be refrigerated for up to 5 days. 

Serving suggestions:

Heat toast in a buttered non-stick skillet with a generous dollop of the jam on top. Cover and let cook just until the jam is warm. Serve this alongside some eggs for a delicious breakfast! 

Heat flour tortillas in a non-stick skillet and top with the jam and Gorgonzola cheese. Cover and let cook for a minute or two, just until the cheese starts to melt and the jam is warm. So incredibly good!

Use warm jam as a dip for pita chips or pieces of flatbread. Makes for a super fancy snack or hors d’oeuvres… yum!


1 comment:

  1. Wow, that was my first reaction too. I would have never even THOUGHT of putting eggplants into jam. My friend is always giving me bags and bags of plums, so it's easy to make jam with that, but I am very intrigued now...


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