We’ll be thinking we’ve done pretty much everything that can be done with a tray of roasted eggplant, and then a new ingredient comes along to shake things up. We discovered black garlic around the same time that NOPI opened, and quickly became hooked. It has an addictive mellowness and depth of fermented flavor: part balsamic vinegar gummy candy, part licorice allsort. Black garlic starts off as white garlic. Nothing is added to the cloves to make them change so fundamentally from one thing to another; they simply undergo a three-week heat process that transforms their natural sugars and amino acids. It’s sold either as a whole bulb whose cloves you then need to peel, or in a small jar of slightly smaller cloves already separated and peeled.
This recipe benefits from being made a few hours before you want to eat it, for the flavors to really absorb and develop. The roasted eggplant wedges don’t fully keep their shape once they’re tossed in the garlic sauce, so don’t worry if the result is slightly mushier than you’d expect: it’ll be all the better to spoon on top of some toasted sourdough or pita bread.
With thanks to Gena Deligianni for this dish.
Reprinted with permission from NOPI by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully, copyright © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (390 degrees F convection).
Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise, and then again widthwise. Cut each section into wedges about 1 1/4 inches wide and 4 inches long, and place in a large mixing bowl along with the olive oil, 1 tablespoon of salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Mix well, then spread the eggplants out on two parchment-lined baking sheets — you don’t want them to be overcrowded — skin-side down. Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, until well cooked and golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Place all the ingredients for the dressing in the small bowl of a food processor, along with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Blitz for about 2 minutes, until a very smooth paste is formed.
Place the eggplant in a large mixing bowl. Add the garlic dressing and use your hands to stir very gently: you want the eggplant to be coated without disintegrating completely. Leave for an hour or so, if there is time to spare. Spread the yogurt out on a platter or individual plates and arrange the eggplant wedges on top. Sprinkle over the basil leaves — tearing the large ones as you go — and the pine nuts. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and serve.