Few things thrill me like diminutive produce. When I spotted a basket of beautiful baby eggplant at the farmers’ market last week, I let out a little squeal and started loading up a bag full of them, unconcerned with how I would use them in the days to come.
Once home and cooled off from traipsing the around the humid market, I started thinking about how I could utilize my new little gems. I studied them, squinting and furrowing my brow: “what to do, what to do.” And then, there it was, a box of Near East Israeli couscous, just staring at me as if to say, “Hey, you know what would be cool with that eggplant? Me.”
Couscous had a strong point. I decided I would roast the halved eggplant and then stuff them with a mixture of basilly couscous and their own garlicky, slow-baked flesh. When I had finished, I had a beautiful presentation and a very simple recipe to add to my arsenal.
6 baby eggplant
1 box Near East Pearled Couscous, Basil and Herb
2 cloves garlic, roasted and smashed
several sprigs basil, chiffonade
several tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Halve the eggplant and toss them in a bowl with salt and extra virgin olive oil. Place eggplant cut side down on a sheet tray and bake for approximately 18 minutes. While the eggplant is roasting, prepare the couscous according to package directions.
Once the eggplant has cooled, use a melon baller, knife, or grapefruit spoon to take out the middles, careful not to cut down to the skin. Mix the middles with the couscous and roasted garlic and season. Distribute equally among the eggplant shells and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes.
Serve eggplant drizzled with olive oil. I served mine family style over wilted spinach with a simple tomato and feta salad. This little treat would also make a good addition to a spread of mezzes — maybe alongside some hummus and pita and some tabouli.