Having been back in Cali for a week after the wedding, it’s becoming increasingly hard to believe summer is over yet even though the calendar officially marks fall. The days are now that perfect temperature where I can leave the windows open in the house but it’s still warm outside. I’ve planted some fall garden plants in hopes of transferring them in a few weeks to the bigger containers because I’m just now getting peppers and tomatoes and don’t have the heart to pull them yet (I can often be found chanting to my plant, “grow baby, grow!”)
This is a hearty dish that’s perfect for the tail end of summer produce. Figs are a new occurrence in my life. Every time I head to the co-op or farmers’ market, I pick up different varieties and taste test each one. This recipe was made with one of my favorites: Candy Striped figs. They have a bit of extra sweetness that plays well with the cumin and the heat in the chutney.
There are a couple ways to prepare spelt berries, depending on the consistency you want. I always want a bit of texture in my grains which is why I cooked them like you would risotto. The Kitchn does a brief overview about the different ways to cook Spelt.
Roasted Eggplant with Cumin-Scented Spelt and Fig Chutney
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 cup spelt berries
- 1- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup diced white onion
- 1/4 lb figs
- 3 medjool dates
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup water
- In a pot, toast cumin over medium-low heat until fragrant, 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a mortar or spice grinder and grind cumin. Return broken down cumin to the pot and add in the spelt. Heat over medium-low for one minute, lightly toasting the spelt. Add in 1/4 cup of water and stir. Let cook until water is almost absorbed and add in another 1/4 cup. Repeat with remaining water until spelt is tender but still a bit chewy, 30-40 minutes.
- While spelt cooks, preheat oven to 375˚. Cut eggplant into 1/4" slices and toss with olive oil and sea salt. Place in a single layer on a baking tray and roast until tender and lightly browning, 20-30 minutes.
- Finally, to start the chutney, heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, 6-7 minutes. Quarter figs and place in the pot along with the dates (pits removed), vinegar, ginger, lemon zest, chili flakes, cinnamon, and water. Let mixture break down, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust chili/cinnamon level if desired.
by Erin Alderson