Tahini Noodles with Shrimp and Eggplant

img_20190425_181910_062When I was designing this recipe, I decided to CONFINE myself to a flavor profile that I knew BALANCED well together but that I had limited experience with: Middle Eastern flavors. Although shrimp is not the first meat that comes to mind when thinking of Middle Eastern food (lamb and beef kebabs are more common), fish is consumed, especially in the coastal areas, and is becoming more popular. While I don’t make any claims to the authenticity of this dish, it was really fun to stretch my mind and use flavors that I’m not as familiar with! Don’t be scared off by the long list of instructions; it looks like a lot of work but all the steps are quick and easy.

The details:

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Thought process:

I started recipe development with tahini and shrimp because I already had both of them in my house. To add additional ingredients, I used the flavor bible, which suggested eggplant, yogurt, lemon, and sumac (all of which are also middle eastern ingredients). I added pasta to make it substantial, chick peas for some texture (and they’re obviously middle eastern), picked up some squash at the produce market when I was getting the eggplant, and finished it with parsley for color contrast. For the cooking style, most eggplant dishes I have enjoyed cooked the eggplant down a lot so that it got quite mushy, so I tried to do that here. Even though it didn’t get as soft as I expected, the texture was still very nice.

Tahini – Tahini is a paste made of ground sesame seeds. It is a main ingredient in hummus, and I find it to have a vaguely nutty, smoky flavor. Like a natural nut butter, store it in the fridge and make sure to stir really well before use to redistribute the oils. In addition to being great in sauces, it also adds a really interesting flavor to baked goods. I will have to do something like that in the future on this site!

Sumac – Sumac is a spice that you may not have heard of before. It’s a red powder made from ground sumac fruits, and is commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine to add a sour, lemony flavor. I had not used it before, but I ready that it should be added near the end of cooking. Because the shrimp are so quick-cooking anyway, I though it would be perfect there. Of all the ingredients in this dish, I think the sumac had the most pronounced and interesting flavor! I definitely recommend trying to find it, but if you can’t, I’m sure the dish would be good without it.

Below, the recipe:

Tahini Noodles with Shrimp and Eggplant
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20190424_183012Squash

  • 1 small eggplant (1/2 pound), peeled and cut into 3/4 inch dice
  • 1.5 pounds summer squash, cut into 3/4 inch dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  1. Combine the eggplant and squash in a colander, season liberally with salt and let drain at least 15 min
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over med-hi and cook squash  for 5 min, tossing frequently
  3. After 10 min, add garlic and continue to cook until the squash is very brown and softened but the garlic is not burned
  4. Remove the vegetables from the pan (leaving the oil) and season the vegetables with salt and pepper

20190424_184857Chickpeas

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F
  2. Toss everything together and distribute on a baking sheet
  3. Roast for 30 min, tossing occasionally, until the chickpeas are browned and slightly dried out

20190424_185311Shrimp

  • 1 pound frozen large easy peel shrimp, thawed then peeled and deveined
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  1. Toss peeled shrimp with oil, sumac, thyme, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and marinade at least 5 min
  2. Cook the shrimp in the leftover eggplant oil over medium heat, turning once and removing when just cooked, ~5 min (read my rant about cooking shrimp here!)
  3. Remove shrimp to same bowl as eggplant and squeeze 1/2 lemon over the bowl

Sauce

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, rough chop
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4-3/4 cup pasta cooking water
  1. Use an immersion blender to puree sauce ingredients until smooth.
  2. Add pasta cooking water to achieve desired consistency – you will want it to easily pour over the pasta
  3. Taste and season with salt.

Serving

  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 pound spaghetti, cooked according to package directions, cooking water reserved
  1. Toss the pasta with 1 cup of the sauce and add additional pasta water until it is smoothly coated (Save the rest for my pasta leftovers tip!)
  2. Serve the pasta, topped with squash, shrimp, chickpeas, parsley, and more sauce

Rating:

5/5 stars.5 stars
I was really pleased with this! It definitely does not remind me of any middle eastern dish I’ve ever eaten, but the sauce is extremely flavorful, and every ingredient stands out and yet it all goes very well together. Towards my goal of inventing completely original recipes, it fits the bill!

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One thought on “Tahini Noodles with Shrimp and Eggplant

  1. Pingback: No-Bake Chocolate Tahini Bars – Results Not Guaranteed

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