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feel good food that's good for you

Meltingly soft eggplant wrapped around a garlicky Georgian spinach and walnut dip is a wonderful vegan starter or light lunch – delicious warm or cold. Leftover dip makes a fab, instant sauce for hot pasta. Low-carb, high-fat (good ones!) and paleo, too.

Meltingly soft eggplant wrapped around a garlicky Georgian spinach and walnut dip is a wonderful vegan starter or light lunch - delicious warm or cold. Leftover dip makes a fab, instant sauce for hot pasta. Low-carb, high-fat (good ones!) and paleo, too. 

My daughter, Rachel.

I so wish I could tell you that this lip-smackingly delicious recipe was born from a visit to the country of Georgia, but it wasn’t. The only Georgia I’ve been to is the Peach State one; the next state up from my home state of Florida.

Nothing like the country. Nothing at all. 

No, this recipe is of mixed origin: part my own recipe for spinach phkali that I’ve only ever used as a dip, and reading from the glorious cookbook, Kaukasis: a culinary journey through Georgia, Azerbaijan and beyond, by Olia Hercules (and here is a UK link to Kaukasis). I looked at her recipe for aubergine rolls (badrijani nigvzit) and immediately knew I would make this with my long-forgotten deeply flavoured dip.

kaukasis, by olia hercules and another cookbook I am loving right now, cook for #syria, curated by clerkenwell boy

kaukasis, by olia hercules, and another cookbook I am loving right now, cook for #syria recipe book, curated by clerkenwell boy

The melting aubergine, gently charred under cover in my enamelled iron skillet, smeared generously with this creamy-textured, herb and spinach studded dip, is utterly divine. Soft yet impactful – a surprisingly uncommon trait in food, and one I love.

Meltingly soft eggplant wrapped around a garlicky Georgian spinach and walnut dip is a wonderful vegan starter or light lunch - delicious warm or cold. Leftover dip makes a fab, instant sauce for hot pasta. Low-carb, high-fat (good ones!) and paleo, too. It’s been a long time since I made spinach phkali, a potent melange of chopped spinach, tarragon, coriander/cilantro, toasted walnuts, fiery garlic and haunting fenugreek.

I used to serve it around Christmas time at work as not only is it so unusual and intriguing to Western palates, but I decorate it with fresh tarragon and pomegranate seeds for a Christmassy look. A little kitsch, yes, but forgivable once tasted spread on good bread or scooped up with homemade pitta chips. And it’s naturally vegan, although everyone swears there is cream cheese in there somewhere.

spinach phkali, a potent melange of chopped spinach, tarragon coriander/cilantro, toasted walnuts, fiery garlic and haunting fenugreek. kelliesfoodtoglow.com

old recipe, old pictures!

Although bordered on the north by Russia (its former master), the mild Mediterranean climate means that the growing season of Georgia is long and prolific: aubergines, walnuts (a mainstay crop), sour plums, zucchini, spinach, pomegranates, grapes (the wines are very highly rated); but also hardier root crops like beetroot, and brassicas like cabbages as well as a plethora of culinary and medicinal wild herbs. They even use flowers as spice; not just how I would, as mere decoration and to hide burnt bits. Many of these glorious foods are melded into sauces and condiments that get daubed on and stirred into most any savoury dish. Meltingly soft eggplant wrapped around a garlicky Georgian spinach and walnut dip is a wonderful vegan starter or light lunch - delicious warm or cold. Leftover dip makes a fab, instant sauce for hot pasta. Low-carb, high-fat (good ones!) and paleo, too. 

Today’s peek at Georgian food is really just a toehold in the Caucasus, just a little dip (pun intended) in this Black Sea cuisine. A whole world of clashing and colourful flavours lies just beyond the spinach pkhali, and my take on badrijani nigvzit, but this should whet your appetite for more. It did me. And it could not be simpler. Meltingly soft eggplant wrapped around a garlicky Georgian spinach and walnut dip is a wonderful vegan starter or light lunch - delicious warm or cold. Leftover dip makes a fab, instant sauce for hot pasta. Low-carb, high-fat (good ones!) and paleo, too. 

If you are at all intrigued to know more about the cuisine of Georgia, as well as culture and travel tips, can I suggest you read my friend Sally Prosser’s articles? Start with this one about Georgian food, and carry through with her series. She has also written about Azerbaijani and Persian food and cookbooks. Sally (mycustardpie.com) is Dubai-based, but English at heart, and a superlative writer on food, travel and wine. Reading her posts and ogling her Instagram account always has me yearning to grab my passport and run to the airport to follow in her well-travelled footsteps. There isn’t a better travel writer out there. Meltingly soft eggplant wrapped around a garlicky Georgian spinach and walnut dip is a wonderful vegan starter or light lunch - delicious warm or cold. Leftover dip makes a fab, instant sauce for hot pasta. Low-carb, high-fat (good ones!) and paleo, too. 

*** Announcement:  I am now blogging with Metro.co.uk, one of the biggest online news sites in the UK (I also blog for another of the biggies, Huffington Post). I have only just started, debuting with my “Mastermind subject” – ha ha – turmeric. I will pop in a link here every time I post. Or, find out as soon as it is live by liking my Facebook page. Thanks for your support. I really appreciate it. Here’s the link to my Metro author page. And, to the turmeric article itself. Please share it if you find it of any value. 🙂

What cuisine do you love but have yet to visit the country of its origin? 

Meltingly soft eggplant wrapped around a garlicky Georgian spinach and walnut dip is a wonderful vegan starter or light lunch - delicious warm or cold. Leftover dip makes a fab, instant sauce for hot pasta. Low-carb, high-fat (good ones!) and paleo, too. 

Creamy Spinach and Walnut-Stuffed Eggplant

  • Servings: 4 plus extra
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Meltingly soft eggplant wrapped around a garlicky Georgian spinach and walnut dip is a wonderful vegan starter or light lunch – delicious warm or cold. Leftover dip makes a fab, instant sauce for hot pasta (shown). Low-carb, high-fat (good ones!) and paleo, too. xx

***Inspired by a recipe in Kaukasis, by Olia Hercules.

2 medium eggplants or 3-4 small ones (Japanese)

5 tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil (organic if possible), divided use

1/2 brown or red onion, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 quantity recipe for Spinach Phkali (I used frozen leaf spinach, cooked and squeezed of water; don’t add the spring onions/scallions; I only had parsley so use either cilantro/coriander or parsley)

Extra herbs, pomegranate seeds, toasted pine nuts or walnuts, and pomegranate molasses/syrup – for serving

Method:

Make up the spinach phkali and refrigerate for at least one hour – longer if you can, but bring out of the fridge to “warm up” a bit. This is really so the flavours will meld, so if you are in a rush, use just after it’s made.

Heat the oil in a large heavy frying pan – or as I do, in two iron skillets. Halve the eggplants lengthways and add them, cut-side down, to the pan(s). Cook over a medium heat until lightly browned and soft. Turn the halves and cook on the other side, slightly reducing the heat and adding a lid – the steam heat will help them cook evenly. I turned them another couple of times to get them very soft and meltingly charred. This takes about 20 minutes. They will collapse quite a bit and become foldable.Meltingly soft eggplant wrapped around a garlicky Georgian spinach and walnut dip is a wonderful vegan starter or light lunch - delicious warm or cold. Leftover dip makes a fab, instant sauce for hot pasta. Low-carb, high-fat (good ones!) and paleo, too. Cool the aubergines to room temperature and slather the cut side with the spinach dip. Fold and serve with extra herbs, pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of pomegranate syrup or squeeze of lemon. Serve with fresh plums or tomatoes, if you wish.

The leftovers are sublime mixed into hot pasta. For the dish in this image I had cooked and extra eggplant, cut it up and added it to the pasta, dip, a little more olive oil, chopped red chillies and more parsley. Chopped tomatoes added are also good, too.

spinach phkali as pesto-like pasta sauce

spinach phkali as pesto-like pasta sauce

Select Aubergine Recipes on Food To Glow

Mediterranean Eggplant Pancakes with Sweet Red Pepper Sauce

Eggplant and Double Greens Pizza with Foolproof Wholewheat Crust

Eggplant Parmigiana Shakshuka

Kale, Eggplant & Goldenberry Grain Salad with Ginger-Tahini Dressing

Panini-style Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Baconeggplantparmshakshuka1

***and loads more recipes and ideas from my Index

And some recipes from others with Eastern European/Western Asian and Middle Eastern bent 

Persian Halloumi

Baba Ghanoush

Aubergine Mujaddara

Courgette and Manouri Fritters

Green Beans in Walnut Garlic Dressing

and more of a Mediterranean one, but it’s beautiful Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

RIPE FOR PINNING!spinach walnut stuffed eggplant feature

23 thoughts on “Creamy Spinach and Walnut-Stuffed Eggplant (Badrijani Nigvzit)

  1. from where am coming from no idea but i believe is a good recipe.

  2. mistimaan says:

    Very delicious recipe………loved it 🙂

  3. Sally says:

    This post is so evocative Kellie. You’ve summed up the tantalising appeal of this cuisine which celebrates beautiful fresh produce and vegetables as a starring role on the table. You are right they value the medicinal and therapeutic side of herbs and flavourings too, sprinkling things like marigold powder into various dishes. I can’t thank you enough for the kind words and mention. I always read your own posts with huge admiration for your easy inclusive style, rock solid and interesting information and vibrant recipes. Truly a long term fan and my family are too. Bravo for the Metro gig. Thank you again. Xx

  4. Absolutely gorgeous, every single bit of this post is fab!!!

  5. Katie @ Whole Nourishment says:

    Congrats on your Metro gig! Very well-deserved. And this eggplant recipe has me drooling! Love that this everyday dish can easily turn into a festive holiday dish with just a few choice toppings!

  6. Another cracking recipe and very exciting news about Metro! I can’t wait to read & hear more about that. Big congratulations Kellie 🙂

  7. simonjkyte says:

    The second word looks possibly Karteli (Georgian), the first word sure isn’t – maybe Turk?

    1. I was getting this information from a Georgian writer so perhaps there is more than one acceptable word to use. But thank you for your input. 😊

      1. simonjkyte says:

        Georgia is an incredible country

  8. This is looking scrumptious…m drooling over these..awesome share☺

  9. Eastern European fare is still undervalued and undiscovered. Having been squashed together the various cultures were homogenized to their detriment. Your great enthusiastic blog is a boon to me.

  10. superfitbabe says:

    GIMME ALLLLL THE EGGPLANT (and the fat! LOL! But I still love carbs)! Melted aubergine is the best kind!

  11. excellent photographs, description & that dish is a stunner !! I am a big fan of eggplants & can eat them in any way.

  12. Beautiful work 💞 Are you on Pinterest?:)

    1. Yes! I’m Food To Glow. Thanks for asking 😊😊

      1. Great, found you 😎 I invited you to the food group board, hope you join 💕

      2. Thank you. I’m away for a wee while without laptop so I’ll look for your invite when I’m reunited with it😊😊

      3. 💞 Wishing you an awsome day

  13. jedi dad says:

    Hi Kellie, I nominated you for blogger recognition award:

    letterstoayoungspiritualseeker.com/2017/09/05/thanks-for-blogger-recognition-award-nomination/

    Don’t feel obligated to follow instructions. I ended up doing to try something new when someone nominated me.

    1. Thank you so much for the awesome recognition. That’s so kind of you!

  14. mawarre says:

    The combination of flavours and colours looks just gorgeous..and I love the deep char on the eggplant. I’ll be trying this recipe. Thanks for sharing. margaret

  15. gustosan says:

    love it! i love awesome and simple ideas! good job for this post!

If you have time, I would love to hear from you. Thanks so much!

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