Pomegranate and Walnut Relish With Chargrilled Eggplant

It’s fascinating and mildly amusing to explore the lores surrounding aphrodisiac foods. Whether fact or fiction, the idea that certain foods contain chemicals that can put you in the mood for sexy times is simply irresistible. Proudly, according to scientists, herbalists, poets and storytellers, the plant world is an abundant source of aphrodisiac foods – from stimulating basil to plump figs, from silky avocados to phallic bananas and asparagus.

This leads me to my favourite sexy food, pomegranates. Ancient Greeks say that pomegranates are the culinary symbol of Aphrodite, the love goddess, while others believe that the forbidden fruit of the Bible was not actually a humble apple, but rather a seductive pomegranate fruit. But fairytales and myths aside, it is the deep crimson of the seeds and the arousing tang of the juice that really have me hooked.

In this sex-on-a-plate salad, I’ve combined smoky, silky chargrilled eggplant with a tangy, sweet-yet-sour pomegranate and walnut relish.

Serves 4

  • 3 medium eggplant (about 1.1kg), trimmed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups baby rocket leaves (tightly packed)
  • ¼ cup mint leaves
  • 100g feta, cubed
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • A few drops of pomegranate molasses

Pomegranate and walnut relish

  • 1 large pomegranate (or 2-3 small, about 300g)
  • ¾ cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup coriander, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • Sea salt and black pepper

To make the pomegranate and walnut relish, start by extracting the seeds from the pomegranate. There are a few different ways to do this but the easiest is to just cut the pomegranate in half, cup cut-side down in your hand over a bowl and then, using the back of a knife, firmly tap the pomegranate to loosen the seeds. The seeds will start to fall out. Remove any of the white membrane. Combine the pomegranate seeds (along with any of the juice) with the crushed garlic, walnuts, coriander, molasses and oil and stir to combine. Add the pomegranate molasses and season well with sea salt and black pepper.

Slice the eggplant into 1cm thick slices and coat in the olive oil. Heat up the barbecue (or a griddle pan on the stovetop), and char-grill the eggplant for 2-3 minutes on each side until soft and cooked through. Sprinkle over sea salt and set aside to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, slice into strips.

Gently stir the pomegranate and walnut relish through the eggplant. Season the salad well with sea salt and black pepper. Scatter over the feta and finish with a small drizzle of pomegranate molasses.

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