Tender Japanese eggplant work best in this appetizer of fried eggplant sandwiching pesto-like walnut sauce. Pomegranate seeds are often used for garnish.
- 1 cup toasted walnuts
- 1⁄3 cup packed cilantro leaves
- 1⁄4 cup packed basil leaves
- 1⁄4 cup packed parsley leaves
- 1 tsp. ground fenugreek
- 1⁄2 tsp. hot paprika
- 1⁄4 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1⁄2 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 1⁄2 cups canola oil
- 4 small Japanese eggplant, trimmed and sliced lengthwise 1/2" thick
- 1⁄2 small red onion, thinly sliced crosswise into rings
Place walnuts, half each of the cilantro, basil, and parsley, plus fenugreek, paprika, turmeric, vinegar, garlic, yellow onions, salt, pepper, and 1⁄3 cup water in a food processor; purée until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Set sauce aside.
Heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry eggplant, flipping once, until golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain and cool; season with salt and pepper.
Spread each slice of eggplant with about 2 tbsp. walnut sauce and fold in half; transfer to a serving platter and garnish with remaining cilantro, basil, and parsley leaves, and the sliced red onions.