Gathering with Friends on the River + Roasted Eggplant with Mint Harissa Yogurt

It’s warming up in Portland and I couldn’t think of a better way to start the early Summer Season than to grab some beer, invite my friends, and head out to a nearby river for dinner at sunset.

…It was the perfect evening. I brought my packable grill, fold up table, a few chairs, plates, silverware, napkins, glasses and food and set up right on the water. My friends arrived shortly after.

Beer in hand, we feasted.

I’m absolutely convinced that food tastes better outside and friendships have a deeper bond when time is spent around a table together.

Also – for all my beer lovers out there, Allagash did not disappoint.

I developed the menu to pair with Allagash’s Saison and Curieux specifically. Saison is their version of a classic Belgian farmhouse-style ale. The citrus and peppery spice notes were incredible with the Spring Greens with Quick-Pickled Vegetables and Roasted eggplant with mint harissa yogurt.

The Curieux was remarkable with our selection of Jasper Hill Farm Cheese and the Grilled whole rockfish with blistered bean salad and chile vinegar. My friends and I especially loved the Harbison – a soft ripened cheese wrapped in strips of spruce cambium, the tree’s inner bark layer, harvested from the woodlands of Jasper Hill.


The Curieux was one of the best beers, if not the best, I’ve ever had. Maybe it’s because it’s aged in bourbon barrels for seven weeks?! Such a bourbon lover here. The result is a rich, golden ale that features smooth notes of coconut, vanilla, and of course, a hint of bourbon.

I’ve included the menu below so that you too can head out for a dinner of your own with friends without the hassle of planning what to make.  This menu is set up so that you can prep nearly everything in advance in your own kitchen at home, pack up, and then set up on site. Even the the main course was pre prepped, needing only to prep and grill the fish when you get there.

Additional recipes beyond my Roasted eggplant with mint harissa yogurt, included below, are available here for you via clickable links.

MENU

Allagash Brewing Company

Jasper Hill Farm Cheese

Spring Greens with Quick-Pickled Vegetables

Carrot, walnut and lentil hummus

Roasted eggplant with mint harissa yogurt [recipe below]

Grilled Whole Rockfish with Blistered Bean Salad and Chile Vinegar  [this method for whole fish]

Rustic bread loaf with olive oil, balsamic, sea salt

I hope this post will inspire you to savor the moment and live a life full of beauty outside this Summer! Make sure to share your moments and tag @allagashbrewing and @christiannkoepke!

[Featuring Allagash Brewing Company  and Jasper Hill Farm Cheese.  

Post is sponsored and all opinions are my own. 

Art direction, prop sourcing, menu, cooking, hosting, & photography by Christiann Koepke.

Modeling by Kamyar Jahan & Haylee Castro + Sarah Knott & Mirra Wesneski]

Roasted Eggplant with Mint Harissa Yogurt

Yield 6 servings

This Eggplant is incredibly creamy, paired with a golden, chewy exterior. The addition of the mint harissa yogurt takes the classic roasted eggplant to another level. Garnish with herbs and a drizzle of sesame oil for the true experience.

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggplants

  • Olive oil, for brushing

  • Sea salt

  • Sesame oil, for finishing

  • Fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley (optional garnish)

     

Mint Harissa Yogurt

Makes: 1 cup

  • 220g (1 cup) Greek yogurt
  • 15g (⅓ cup) mint, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon harissa paste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways, cutting straight through the green stalk (stalk remains for presentation
  2. Place the eggplant halves, cut-side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  3. Brush each half generously with olive oil
  4. Sprinkle with sea salt
  5. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown and caramelized. Alternate version: roast for 20 minutes only and finish face down on a well oiled grill rack for the additional time.
  6. Remove from the oven and serve warm with a dollop of yogurt and herb garnish

Prepare the yogurt:

  1. In blender, combine all ingredients.
  2. Puree until smooth
  3. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

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