Smoked Eggplant Tart Recipe
I had one leftover smoked eggplant from the weekend. I used large, heavy, firm eggplants that I brushed with a bit of oil so the oil could absorb the smoky flavor from the hot charcoals. This evening, I peeled the paper-like skin and processed it with sesame chutney (til chutney in Urdu). I fried a shallot, added a little mound of butter, then added ground beef, fresh dill and tomatoes. This preparation made the perfect filling for a savory tart.
If you do not have a grill, you could replicate similar flavors using an Indian cooking method, which was my husband's grandmother's. Simply heat a piece of charcoal, preferably natural charcoal, directly over a flame until it's bright red and transfer it to small metal tin that you place in the center of a saucepan filled with the puréed eggplant. Drizzle a little oil over the hot coal to provide smoke, then immediately cover the saucepan with a lid to trap the smoke and let infuse into the spread.
Yields: 8 individual tarts8 (5 x 5-inch) squares puff pastry dough, store-bought
1 large eggplant
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1½ tablespoons sesame chutney (or tahini)
½ teaspoon dried mint
½ teaspoon dried parlsey
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound ground beef
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked
1 clove garlic, minced
1½ tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
¼ cup Mozzarella cheese, grated
The day before:
Make sure to start with new coals; remove and discard any old ashes. When building the fire, do not use lighter fluid, since it’s unhealthy to ingest. I use a chimney starter with torn newspaper to get the coals nice and hot. Place the coals in a pyramid shape to provide good air circulation. After approximately 30 minutes, the coals should be ashy and gray. Once the coals have become ashes, bury the whole, unpeeled, lightly oiled eggplants (I usually smoke a lot of veggies at the same time) in the coals and bake them for approximately 15 to 20 minutes until the skin burns and they look deflated. Check for doneness. The inside should be very soft. If not done, cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove the eggplants from the ashes. Let cool to room temperature, brush the ashes from the skin, place in a bowl, plastic-wrap and chill in the refrigerator.
The following day...
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
For the tart shell: Make sure the puff pastry dough is thawed but still cold so it's easy to roll out. Place the dough in 8 individual tart molds lined with parchment paper; following the curve of the mold, crimp the dough against the edge. Gently press the dough with your fingers so there are no air bubbles. Leave a little excess above the edge because the dough will settle a bit in the oven. Prick the dough with a fork. Chill in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes. Line the dough with another sheet of parchment paper and top with ceramic pie weights (dried beans work well too). Place the tart pans on a baking sheet and bake for about 12-14 minutes. Remove the pie weights and discard the parchment paper. Bake for another 2-3 minutes so the pie crust can dry. Remove from the heat and let the dough cool a little down. Set aside.
For the eggplant: Remove the eggplants from the refrigerator and use 1 eggplant. Remove and discard the skin and gather the pulp into a food processor. Add the sesame chutney. Season with salt and pepper.
For the beef:
Season the beef with cayenne pepper. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. Add thinly sliced shallots. Cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent them from burning, until the color is evenly golden brown. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the beef and cook until the meat is seared with a golden crust. Flip the beef, then add dried mint, parsley, dill, eggplant, the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Stir until barely combined. Season with sea salt and pepper.
Before serving, remove the eggplant spread from the refrigerator ahead of time to bring it back to room temperature, if stored in the refrigerator.
Fill the tart shells with the eggplant spread. Top with 1½ teaspoons mozzrella cheese and 1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese. Place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes until the cheese is melted.
Garnish with fresh dill. Serve at room temperature with a green salad.
You could also add a few drops of liquid smoke to the puréed eggplants instead of smoking them.
You could also serve these as appetizers. Just line mini tartlet shells with the puff pastry dough and top with the smoked eggplant spread.June 5, 2013.