Updated: Aug 25
Have you ever been invited to a party where everyone is supposed to bring a dish and you want to bring something that both your vegetarian and non-vegetarian friends will enjoy? Hummus would probably be a good choice, right? But then you get to the party and see there are at least five different kinds of hummus already. What would you do? If you're like me, you'd probably try to highlight the fact that it's homemade and tell everyone, "Please try it. You'll like it!" But let's face it. Hummus is hummus. People aren't usually excited about trying a new kind of hummus whether it's homemade or not.
Don't get me wrong! I love hummus! I even wrote about it a few months ago when I shared my recipe for boiled peanut hummus. But hummus is an everyday type of snack. If you're looking for something special, try making these eggplant boats with walnut meat and pomegranate seeds for your next meal or gathering.
What Is Good About This Appetizer?
Where do I start? For one thing, this dish can satisfy a wide variety of people since it's vegan AND gluten free! We all know how hard it can be to eat healthy during the holidays. Eggplants boats are not only a festive-looking appetizer with lots of color and tons of delicious flavor, but they're also very nutritious! This dish can be served warm, cold, or room temperature, but I must say I prefer this dish room temperature.
These are so easy to make, and I promise you they'll be gone fast. This recipe originated in the country of Georgia, so there's no surprise that this dish is popular in the Russian community. I've seen variation of this recipe many times in Russian cookbooks in America. It's an old-fashioned dish that everyone loves, and each family has their own signature way to make it. People use different varieties of eggplants or find different ways to stuff them. Sometimes it's just sliced, fried, and baked eggplant that's made into something like an Italian rotellini, just stuffed with ground walnuts instead of cheese. Sounds unusual, doesn't it? But trust me. It's yummy.
Khmeli Suneli: Georgian Spice
Part of what makes this dish so easy to make is that almost all the ingredients are easy to find, too. The one ingredient you may have a hard time finding is the Georgian spice mix, khmeli suneli. Don't let it scare you away, though! You can totally skip it if you need to.
Khmeli suneli is one of Georgia's signature spices. It's a very fragrant spice. Warm and slightly grassy with a nutty flavor. Honestly, it's hard to describe the true flavor. You have to try it if you can. If you love spices even half as much as I do, you'll love this spice. If you're thinking of buying or making this spice but don't know what else you'd do with it, the good news is that it's wonderful on almost any poultry, fish, or vegetable dish! I often make this spice myself, and you can too!
Khmeli Suneli Ingredients
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoons dry dill seeds
1 tablespoon dry savory
2 dry bay leaves
2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
Khmeli Suneli Directions
Add all spices into a spice grinder. Blend until everything is powdered and looks to be the same consistency. Enjoy!
Can I make these ahead of time?
Absolutely. I think the flavor is even better the next day. You can totally make these 3 days in advance, and they'll be ready to go when you need them.
Can I Use Different Herbs?
Sure! In the video I used three kinds: cilantro, dill, and parsley. There's no rule about which spice(s) you have to use. It's up to your taste! It just so happens I love all herbs and I happened to have those three handy when I made the video. But feel free to experiment with flavor and see what you enjoy most.
Drizzle with olive oil right before serving. Also, if you love feta cheese, you can use that for a garnish as well for a more festive-looking dish! I like to serve these on top of my green salad to make a complete and delicious lunch or as a starter for dinner. And you should definitely take these to your next potluck. I promise they'll be a hit!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
6 small eggplants or 3 big eggplants
1 teaspoon pink salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups walnuts
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large or 2 small lemons (juice only)
¾ cup chopped herbs (dill, parsley, cilantro)
½ teaspoon pink salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping spoon khmeli suneli (see note above)
1 small whole pomegranate or half of 1 big pomegranate
1 tablespoon herbs, chopped
2 teaspoons extra olive oil for drizzling (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F. Wash your eggplants and dry them with paper towel. Cut them in half lengthwise.
Score each half with a knife and place it on a baking mat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes.
Let cool for a few minutes, then scoop out the eggplant meat from each half with a spoon.
To make the filling: add walnuts, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, herbs, and khmeli suneli to a food processor. Pulse a few times, then add the scooped eggplant meat. Pulse a few more times, stopping to scrape the sides once in a while. You're looking for the consistency of cooked ground beef, not a paste-like consistency.
Use a spoon to scoop the filling into the eggplant skins.
Sprinkle the tops with pomegranate seeds and some more herbs.
Drizzle with olive oil before serving. These can be eaten right away or saved for later.