Eggplant Wraps with Moroccan Rice and Pickled Mango

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As I mentioned in my last post, I’m down in the state capital these days for work. My day job – when I’m not cooking and writing here – is working for the state legislature, and during the legislative session that means a southward migration to our state’s capital, Olympia. It also means pretty long hours and fewer new posts here, but I do my best to keep things fresh (pun absolutely intended).

One of the best parts about the legislative session though is the return of my Olympia dinner nights, which my friends affectionately refer to as “Quinnsmas.” Aside from a welcome reminder that there is a life outside of politics, these dinner nights are a blast because they are loosely modeled after an Iron Chef challenge. I don’t have an opponent, but every week I get three surprise ingredients with twenty four hour notice that I have to incorporate into my dish.

My friends like to find odd pairings to throw me off, and I love a good challenge – which makes for some fun and elaborate dishes!

This past week the ingredients were chorizo, eggplant and mango, which resulted in this wonderful new Moroccan-inspired recipe. Eggplant and chorizo are a perfectly serviceable combination, so the only trick was figuring out how to shoehorn mangoes into the mix. As it turns out, pickling them brings the flavor profile in line perfectly!

The mangoes retain some of their sweetness, but also pick up some of the acid and vinegar notes as well as aromatic spice. Paired with salty, paprika-infused chorizo sausage, hearty spiced rice and full-bodied eggplant, it forms a delicious winning combination.

This is definitely a dish that requires some planning ahead – the mangoes should be done 24 hours ahead of time and the eggplant needs about an hour of work by itself – but the results are definitely worth it!

Eggplant Wraps with Moroccan Rice and Pickled Mango (serves 8)

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Pickled Mango Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons pepper
  • 1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 1 habenero pepper, cut into thin slices
  • 2 large mangoes, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Eggplant Wrap Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 2 long eggplants
  • 12 oz. of ground chorizo
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 12. oz of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of almonds, diced
  • pickled mangoes, diced

Instructions

  1. At least 24 hours before you plan to serve the dish, combine all the ingredients into a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the mangoes to the pot. Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees. Cut the eggplants lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips. Sprinkle both sides with salt and lay them out in a colander. Fill a large pot with water (or something else heavy) and set it on top of the eggplant strips. Let sit for at least 45 minutes.
  3. In a skillet, cook the chorizo sausage until lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the sausage from the skillet and reserve the grease.
  4. In a large pot, add the chorizo grease and a dash of olive oil and heat to medium-high. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and saute until the onion begins to become translucent, about 5-6 minutes.
  5. Add the cumin, cayenne and rice to the pot and continue sauteing for another 2-3 minutes until the rice begins to brown.
  6. Add the chicken stock and a cup of water to the pot and turn the heat up to high. Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and cover. Cook the rice for approximately 20 minutes, or until tender.
  7. At this point your eggplants should be done resting. Dab off any water that was drawn out using a paper towel and brush both sides with olive oil. Place in the oven for 6-8 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender enough to roll. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  8. Switch your oven to high broil. When the rice is done add the pickled mango, chorizo and almonds and stir until thoroughly mixed. Working one at a time, place a spoonful of the rice mixture in the center of an eggplant slice and fold both sides over. Place each on an oiled baking sheet fold-side down.
  9. Place the baking sheet with the stuffed eggplant wraps in the oven and cook for 4-6 minutes, until the tops of the wraps are beginning to brown. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and serve!
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