Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Mint

Here's a delicious bread-less bruschetta from Deb Perelman over at the Smitten Kitchen (I really should send her a thank-you note), which beautifully bridges summer and fall.  If you make it this week, you can take advantage of the last of the tomatoes as well as the finally-getting-into-its-stride eggplant.  We have been woefully unable to bring you all many fresh herbs this season, so unfortunately you'll have to seek mint elsewhere.  Flat-leaf parsley is an excellent substitute, as is basil, which we will have this week!

You want the big, round eggplants
for this dish -- stripes are optional!


makes about 4 appetizer/salad portions, assuming people will eat two rounds each.

1 to 2 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds eggplant (about 2 medium), in 3/4- to 1-inch slices
2 ounces (1/2 cup) chopped or crumbled ricotta salata or feta
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/3 cup finely diced red onion*
3 seeded, diced medium tomatoes (1 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper

*[If you're put off by the sharpness of raw red onion, a couple of ideas: try one of our very mild, sweet Tropea onions; or, after chopping the red onion, pour the red wine vinegar over it in a dish and let stand for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, before adding both to the salad.]

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a large baking sheet generously with olive oil, about 1 to 2 tablespoons. Arrange eggplant rounds in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast, without disturbing, for 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully flip each piece: the undersides should be blistery, dark and a bit puffy and should release from the pan with no effort. If they’re not, let it cook longer. Once flipped, sprinkle them with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper and return the pan to the oven for another 10 to 12 minutes or so, until the undersides match the tops.

[Alternatively, on the grill: Brush eggplant slices with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill eggplant slices until slightly charred and tender when pierced with knife, about 5 to 7 minutes per side.]
Last heirlooms till next year...

Meanwhile, mix your ricotta, capers, onion, tomatoes, mint, vinegar and remaining 4 teaspoons olive oil in a small bowl. Taste for seasoning; ricotta salata tends to be quite salty so I don’t find that this dish needs more than a pinch of salt, if that. Add more vinegar, if desired. Add freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

When the eggplant discs are done, arrange them on a serving platter. Scoop a spoonful of the salad over each round. Eat immediately.

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