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This recipe is the first stab at recreating a bread spread I had at lunch one day that was so magical I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was. I thought some form of mustard with cardamom, but no – hidden veggies! Yay, hidden veggies!

This version isn’t half bad. It isn’t quite there, so expect to see more attempts this summer – but it’s good. And it was delicious swirled into some leftover buckwheat noodles with nice crunchy radishes on top.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Eggplant Soba

4 small Italian eggplants
10 garlic cloves, halved
Neutral oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 tsp, fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
3 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cardamom
2 tsp. cayenne powder
2 tsp. lemon powder
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
Salt & pepper
1 stack soba noodles per person to serve
2 – 4 thinly sliced radishes per person to serve
1 green onion, thinly sliced to serve

Halve your eggplants lengthwise and cross-hatch score. Salt, and lay face down on a cooling rack to drain for 10 minutes.

When your eggplants have drained, pat dry and preheat your oven to 200 – 220C. Line a baking sheet with foil or a silpat.

Fill the scores of the eggplants with the garlic halves. Drizzle some oil over top and sear in a large pan 3 – 5 minutes or until you get some color. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet face side up.

Roast eggplants 20 – 30 minutes or until softened and cooked through. Pull from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.

This is a good time to make the soba according to package directions.

When your eggplant is cooled, scoop the flesh into a blender or food processor.

In your searing pan, toast the onion and spices in 2 Tbsp. oil over medium-high heat until the spices are fragrant and the onions are beginning to go translucent. Add the mixture to the eggplant and blitz. Taste, add the vinegar (if desired) and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve tangled into the buckwheat noodles and topped with the green onions and radish if desired.

Makes enough sauce to feed 4