Iranian-style pasta with eggplant and yogurt sauce

This is a delightful and unusual spin on pasta. The creamy, spiced eggplant is a great contrast to the yogurt cheese sauce. Here, I’ve doubled the yogurt sauce because, I love sauce. Adapted from Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggplants (about 2.5 lb)
  • 1.25 c creme fraiche
  • 120 g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1.5 t cumin seeds
  • 1.5 t fennel seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 1.5 c full fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 t dried mint
  • Handful fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Place eggplants on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and pierce in a few places with a sharp knife. Roast in the oven for about an hour, until the flesh is completely soft.
  3. When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, cut in half and spoon out the flesh into a colander. Discard eggplant skins.
  4. Let eggplant flesh drain for at least 30 minutes, discarding liquid as it seeps out.
  5. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
  6. Heat 2 T of olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat, then add the onion, cumin seeds, and fennel seeds, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until onions are soft.
  7. Once the onions are soft and translucent, add the eggplant flesh, garlic, 1 t salt and some black pepper. Cook for two minutes, then remove from heat and stir in lime juice.
  8. As the onions are cooking, place the crème fraîche, Parmesan, and 4 T of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then set aside.
  9. Once the eggplant mixture is done cooking, add the yogurt to the crème fraîche and Parmesan mixture, and gently heat, stirring frequently. Keep an eye on this mixture, to make sure that the yogurt does not separate or curdle. Remove from heat when warmed through (before it starts simmering).
  10. Cook pasta according to package instructions, making sure that it’s still al dente. After the pasta is drained, incorporate 2 T of oil.
  11. Serve dish by placing a dollop of eggplant mixture over pasta, then topping with a generous spoonful (or few) of the yogurt sauce, and topping with fresh mint and a sprinkling of chili flakes.

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