Adapted from this recipe from London's Gunpowder restaurant.
I've made a number of changes to the original recipe, so reference it if you are curious. I've also made it both with the kale and without (which is how it is pictured above), and I like it both ways, so feel free to omit the kale to eliminate a step.
When cutting the eggplant, if you are using largish eggplants, you may have to cut the quarters in half again (so really you'll be cutting the eggplant into eighths). Don't worry too much about cutting the pieces evenly. I find 1.5- to 2.5-inch pieces to be nice.
Olive oil: If you use olive oil, be sure to check the eggplant after 20 or 25 minutes — it will cause the eggplant to brown more quickly. I used grapeseed oil 3 times, and the eggplant browned beautifully after 30 minutes. I used olive oil once, and it was good, but perhaps too golden (read: near burnt) for some people's tastes.
The original recipe calls for toasting six kale leaves in a dry skillet. This method did not work very well for me, but I attribute the trouble to something being lost in translation from restaurant kitchen to home. I do, however, like the flavor and texture of the kale with the other vegetables. You can make the kale chips two ways:
1. After the eggplant roasts, gently flip over each piece, then scatter kale (lightly dressed in olive oil) over top and roast until crispy, about 15 minutes. This worked well and saved having to dirty two sheet pans.
2. If you have two ovens, however, or if your oven can handle a few sheet pans at once, you can make your kale chips on a separate sheet pan while the eggplant roasts, which will cut back on the overall cooking time.
If you don't feel like making the kale chips, omit them—they add good flavor and texture, but the dish is flavorful enough without them. A little bit of green color is nice, however, so if you omit them, consider sprinkling a handful of arugula, pea shoots, or other tender greens over top.
To toast and grind the cumin seed, heat the seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until they turn color and smell fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and crush until fine. —Alexandra Stafford
medium eggplants (about 1½ -2 pounds total), quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces, see notes above
plus 1 tablespoon grapeseed or olive oil, see notes
6 to 8
Tuscan kale leaves, ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely torn (2 to 3 oz once stemmed), optional, see notes above
cumin seed, toasted and crushed, or ground cumin, see notes above
cucumber (about 8 oz)
whole milk (or 2%) plain Greek yogurt
clove garlic, crushed, optional
cherry tomatoes, halved
extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss eggplants with 1/4 cup of the oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt (at least 1 teaspoon kosher salt). Roast, until eggplant pieces are deeply golden on the side touching the sheet pan, 30 minutes or so. Remove from oven, flip over each piece gently using a fork or spatula (this is just to ensure the pieces are golden and to ensure they don't stick). Set aside.
If making the kale chips, spread them onto a sheet pan, toss with 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil and cook at 450ºF for 7 to 10 minutes or until crispy. Remove from oven and transfer kale to a plate.
Grate the cucumber coarsely on a box grater. In a medium bowl, stir the cucumber into the yogurt, along with the garlic, if using, and the juice of half the lemon (about 1.5 tablespoons). Add the toasted, ground cumin seed. Season with salt, starting with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, adding an additional 1/4 teaspoon if necessary. (I've been using 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt total for the yogurt sauce.)
Toss tomatoes with a good pinch of salt and the tablespoon of olive oil in a medium bowl. Spoon yogurt mixture onto a platter and layer eggplants, kale, and tomatoes on top. Drizzle with more olive oil. Taste. Sprinkle with nice sea salt (if you have it) and squeeze the remaining half lemon over top if you wish—I find if I am using the kale, the additional lemon at the end is really nice.