Every Friday during Vegan Month of Food, the organizers post a secret ingredient or ingredients to utilize in a dish of your choice, ala Food Network "Iron Chef" style.
When I saw that the Iron Chef Challenge ingredients for this week were potato and sesame, I knew there were so many directions I could go in that I was almost stumped on what to prepare. When I realized the rules stated that sweet potatoes were being accepted, even though they are part of a different vegetable family, it changed the game a bit. While doing some prep for a dinner party, I was inspired by some of the ingredients that I had on hand and my Iron Chef dish came into sight:
Sesame Crusted Eggplant Cutlets with Sweet Potato Hummus
I love sesame and sweet potato for their wonderful nutritional values. Like any orange veggie, sweet potato is packed with vitamin A and beta carotene, which is great for the oncoming cold and flu season. Sesame is one of my favorite sources of calcium.
The hummus incorporates sweet potato (okay, I used yam which are also not potatoes and technically also different from sweet potatoes) and sesame in the form of tahini, which is sesame paste. For the eggplant, I used whole sesame seeds that I partially ground. Oh my word it was so good! The sesame nicely crisped the exterior of the eggplant, adding a lovely depth of flavor and the use of brown rice flour keeps them gluten free! These are definitely going into my repertoire.
Sesame Crusted Eggplant Cutlets
Medium sized eggplant, sliced in rounds about 1/2 inch thick
2 T sesame seeds
1/4 tsp sea salt + more for salting eggplant
1/4 C brown rice flour
1/2 C unsweetened almond or other non dairy milk
Arrange eggplant slices in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes to pull out some of the bitter flavor.
In a food processor or spice grinder, pulse sesame seeds with salt so that they are no longer whole but not to the point of a fine powder. Combine with brown rice flour in a medium bowl. Pour milk into a separate bowl.
Heat 1 - 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Dip eggplant slices one at a time into the milk and then into the flour mixture, using your fingers or a spoon to completely coat. Place as many eggplant slices as possible into the heated skillet -- carefully as the oil may splash! -- in a single layer without over crowding. Cover the skillet and cook for five minutes, or until browned on the bottom. Drizzle eggplant with another tablespoon or two of oil; flip and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes until browned and crisp on the other side.
Alternately, preheat oven to 350, grease a baking sheet with oil; arrange eggplant in a single layer and bake for about 10 minutes. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of oil over the eggplant, flip and bake another 10 minutes or longer until cooked through and crisp.
Makes enough batter to coat about 6 - 8 slices of eggplant.
Sweet Potato Hummus
1/2 C cubed orange sweet potato or yam
1/2 C cooked chickpeas
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
2 T lemon juice
2 T water
2 T tahini
1/2 T olive oil
Using a steamer basket, cook sweet potato for about 7 minutes, until soft and easily pierced with a fork.
Transfer to a food processor and add remaining ingredients. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides with a silicone spatula to make sure everything gets incorporated. Adjust seasonings as needed.
Makes about 8oz hummus.
Serve hummus with eggplant cutlets, along with your favorite green vegetable to add color to your plate!
I also whipped up a quick batch of sesame ginger mashed potatoes that I layered with the eggplant cutlets. These were good, but didn't add too much to the dish to say that they are a must include; more like a nice to have.
Sesame Ginger Mashed Potatoes
1 C yukon potato, chopped
1/2 T grapeseed oil
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced ginger
1 T sesame oil
1/4 tsp salt
Add potato to a medium saucepan and cover with an inch or two of water. Bring water to boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender.
Meanwhile, heat grapeseed oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic and saute until softened and fragrant, about two minutes. Set aside.
Once potatoes are done cooking, drain and return to pan. Add garlic and ginger mix along with sesame oil and salt. Mash with a fork or potato masher until smooth, or at your desired texture. If needed for creaminess, add a little veg stock or unsweetened non-dairy milk.