Roasted Eggplant with Cherries

This is a show-stopper. The eggplant is rich and savory from the ajwain and fennel. And the cherries add a sweet, fresh brightness. 

makes 6-8 pieces

ingredients

1 large purple eggplant

Pinch of salt

4+ Tbsp olive oil

Generous pinch ajwain

1 tsp black pepper

Generous pinch fennel seeds

10-12 pitted and sliced fresh cherries

2 Tbsp crumbled or sliced feta

Small handful sunflower sprouts or finely chopped mint leaves

Lime wedges

    instructions

    1. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Slice the eggplant ¾ inches thick and salt each side generously. Set aside for the salt to absorb for 10-20 minutes. Drain and gently squeeze the water out of the eggplant.
       
    2. Toss the eggplant slices with olive oil, ajwain and black pepper. Lay on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet. Bake the eggplant for 10-12 minutes making sure both sides have a nice golden brown color. Turn the temperature down to 350 F and bake for another 5-7 minutes or until the eggplant is cooked through yet holds its shape. 
       
    3. Crumble or slice the cheese on the roasted eggplant, sprinkle the fennel on top and place 2-3 pieces of sliced cherries on the cheese and bake for another 2-3 minutes or until the cheese has softened. 
       
    4. Remove the eggplant from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. 
       
    5. Sprinkle the herbs or sprouts and place the lime wedges around the eggplant just before serving.

    ideas / variations

    • For a vegan option, omit the cheese. 
    • Substitute cherries for mango or peaches or add crushed nuts like pistachios or pine nuts.
    • To give the eggplant more heat, add sliced serranos or sprinkle red chili powder.