São João Nepomuceno I recently found this recipe by Adeena Sussman and decided to try my hand with it since I had a large eggplant sitting in my kitchen – just waiting for a home. The original recipe was supposed to be a meatless main dish, but I wanted to make a bigger quantity and have this as a side dish to serve along with fish, and then have some yummy leftovers for lunch.
The original directions contained more couscous than eggplant, but you know me – I’m a veggie girl so I switched things up, resulting in a higher eggplant to couscous ratio. I didn’t include cumin because I didn’t have this spice on hand, but it turns out the combination of smoked paprika and cinnamon was enough flavor for me. I boosted the deliciousness by adding a little chicken bouillon and a handful of diced garden-fresh cherry tomatoes as well.
We celebrated my son’s 41st birthday and I brought this leftover eggplant couscous. Everyone there (all family bubbled together) wanted the recipe. I guess that means it was a hit for the entire bubble!
Toasted Israeli Couscous with Spicy Eggplant
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cayenne (more or less depending on your love of “picante”)
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2 cups Israeli couscous
- ⅓ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 5-6 cups cubed eggplant with skin (about 1 large eggplant)
- 1 large brown-skinned onion, diced ⅓ inch
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
- ½ cup fresh cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 2 cups hot water mixed with 1 tsp “better than bouillon” chicken flavor
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ cup freshly chopped parsley to garnish
- Optional: Yogurt with lemon zest and lemon juice mixed in to taste, for serving
Slice eggplant into ½ by 2-inch strips. Place in a strainer and mix with two teaspoons of sea salt. Let it stand over a bowl for an hour, shaking intermittently. After an hour, rinse eggplant well and shake off the water then roll in a cloth towel to dry. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine cinnamon, cayenne, and one teaspoon sea salt and set this spice mixture aside.
Heat a heavy saute pan (2 to 3 quarts) over medium heat until it is hot. Add couscous and stir every 20 seconds for about three minutes total until the grains are golden. Transfer toasted couscous to a bowl.
Add oil to the pot and increase heat to medium-high. When it shimmers, add drained eggplant, chopped onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring often, until onions are softened and golden and the eggplant is browned and slightly shrunken, 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
Add tomato paste and the spice mixture and cook, stirring, for one minute. Stir in toasted couscous, canned and fresh tomatoes and two cups of water/bouillon mix, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid, 8 to 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and let this rest for two minutes. Uncover, stir in smoked paprika and parsley, then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Serve immediately and dollop with yogurt mixture, if desired.