Photo: Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer
1 Hour 15 Mins
Serves 4 to 6
Avila’s inventive techniques shine through in this combination of roasted Japanese eggplant, salty halloumi—the Cypriot grilling cheese—and toasted hazelnuts, which the chef says lends the “necessary crunch” imperative in any successful taco.
2 pounds eggplants (3 to 4 eggplants), stemmed and halved lengthwise
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
7 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
6 thyme sprigs
1 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup unsalted butter, divided
1 (8-oz.) pkg. halloumi cheese, cut into 12 (1/2-in.-thick) slices
1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 lime, cut in wedges
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 375°F. Sprinkle cut side of eggplants evenly with salt, and let stand 10 minutes. Wipe off moisture with a paper towel.
Brush eggplants with olive oil; place, cut side up, in a roasting pan. Sprinkle with pepper, and top with garlic and thyme. Roast in preheated oven, uncovered, until just cooked through, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in oven, and toast 8 minutes. Transfer to a food processor, and pulse until crushed, 1 to 2 times.
Remove eggplants from oven. Discard garlic and thyme, and cut eggplants into bite-size pieces.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium. Add eggplant, cut side down, and cook until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a nonstick pan over medium. Add cheese, and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Set aside.
Warm tortillas in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high, and transfer to serving plates. Place 1 cheese slice and about 1/4 cup of eggplant on each tortilla. Top with Burnt Tomato Salsa, hazelnuts, and parsley. Finish with a squeeze of lime juice, and serve immediately.