Roasted Eggplant with Pomegranate, Pickled Chiles, and Pecans
Eggplant is a staple in the Middle East, and they sure do know how to cook it. It's stellar: smoky and light and not at all bitter. The trick is to cook it whole over a gas stovetop burner or on a hot grill. The outside gets all charred as the inside steams, gathering a nice smoky overtone and becoming perfectly cooked. Toasted pecans and pickled jalapeños infuse some Southern accents into the traditional dish. If you can't find pomegranate arils (they come already "shucked" in the produce section), just omit them, or drizzle on a wee bit of pomegranate molasses.