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Somehow, I have a friend who is vegetarian. That’s okay, though, because whenever she comes over for dinner, I’m faced with a challenge: What can I cook for her that won’t also have me conducting a late-night fridge raid to silence my grumbling gut?


Luckily, chef Steven Redzikowski has a recipe that satisfies plant-nibblers and meat-gnashers alike. The meal starts with the hearty purple eggplant, cooked till tender on the grill. Then, he riffs on the traditional red pepper romesco by adding harissa, a complex and spicy Middle Eastern sauce. Finally, he tops the sauce-slathered grilled eggplant with salty feta cheese and fragrant mint leaves.

Redzikowski recommends blending your own harissa too (recipe below). “But if making your own harissa is too much work, a store-bought harissa works well,” he says. Just be careful: “Most harissa brands you find in the store are really spicy.”

Spicy? Savory? Salty? Filling?

Heck, give me 10 more recipes like this and I may join my friend in vegetarianism.

Grilled Eggplant with Feta Cheese, Romesco, and Mint

Recipe by Steve Redzikowski, chef of OAK at Fourteenth in Boulder, CO

What you’ll need:
½ cup harissa*
½ cup raw almonds, chopped
½ cup golden raisins, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
2 eggplants, sliced into planks ½-inch thick, scored
½ cup crumbled feta
8 fresh mint leaves, sliced
Olive oil
Sea salt, to taste

How to make it:
1. Make the harissa romesco sauce. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, mix together the harissa, almonds, raisins, and cilantro. Set aside.

2. Preheat your grill to direct, medium heat. On a baking sheet, coat the eggplant with olive oil and season with salt. Grill the eggplant until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

3. To serve, place three or four slices of eggplant on a plate and top with a spoonful of the Romesco sauce, some feta, a scattering of mint leaves, and a drizzle of olive oil. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

*You can find harissa in the international section of most supermarkets or in Middle Eastern specialty markets. If you’re feeling ambitious, make the sauce yourself using Redzikowski’s recipe.

Homemade Harissa

What you’ll need:
2 dried ancho chilies
2 dried chipotle chilies
¼ tsp ground caraway seeds
¼ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground cumin
6 jarred piquillo peppers
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup olive oil
Salt, to taste

How to make it:
1. Rehydrate the ancho and chipotle chilies in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. In a medium dry skillet over medium-low, heat the caraway, coriander, and cumin until aromatic, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. In a blender or food processor, combine the rehydrated chilies, toasted spices, piquillo peppers, lemon juice, and garlic. Gradually add the olive oil until smooth. (If the mixture is too thick, add a little water.) Makes about 2 1/2 cups. Redzikowski says: “Any leftover harissa is great to use on anything grilled—vegetables, steak, chicken, pork.”

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Source : Men’s Health

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