Baby Eggplant with Sweet Onion, Tomato and Mint (Imam Bayildi)

4 small eggplants

¼ C olive oil plus 2 T, divided

1 large sweet onion, sliced very thin

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ lb. (3 medium-large) tomatoes, peeled and chopped

½ t cumin

¼ t cinnamon

1 t sugar

½ C fresh mint, chopped

Make a slit, lengthwise, down the middle of each eggplant, being careful not to cut through the skin and without opening the ends. Heat a sauté pan large enough to hold the eggplants, and add ½ cup of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the eggplants and sauté quickly on all sides, until the skins are nicely browned and the oil is completely absorbed. Depending on the size of your eggplant, you may need to add a little more oil. Transfer the eggplants to a colander and place them cut side down. Allow to cool and drain for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the sliced onions. Sprinkle with one teaspoon of salt, cover with a lid and cook, stirring often, until the onions are very tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, chopped tomatoes, cumin, cinnamon and sugar. Continue to cook over medium heat, uncovered, until the tomatoes are reduced and the mixture becomes a thick sauce, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped mint.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange the eggplants cut side up in a baking dish. Open the slits and stuff each eggplant with the onion-tomato mixture. Drizzle with additional olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake until very tender, about 1 hour. By the end of cooking the eggplants should be practically flat and the liquid in the dish slightly caramelized. Allow to cool in the baking dish and serve slightly warm or at room temperature. The finished dish can sit several hours. Serve 4-8.


Eggplant Gratin with Sweet Onions and Feta

1½ lbs. eggplant

¼ – ½ C olive oil

1 medium sweet onion, peeled and thinly sliced in half-moons (about 2 cups)

12-16oz. prepared Marinara or Arrabiata (spicy) pasta sauce

6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

¼ C grated Parmesan

Slice the onion into half moons, then heat a large sauté pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the onion slices. Add a pinch of salt and sauté, stirring occasionally until browned and caramelized, while you prepare the eggplant.

Rinse and pat dry the eggplant, trim the ends and do not peel. Cut the eggplant in half crosswise, then cut each half into 6 or 8 (1½–inch) wedges.

In a medium sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the eggplant wedges, a few at a time without crowding. Sauté on all three sides until lightly browned, adding small amounts of olive oil as necessary.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Select a baking dish large enough to hold the eggplant wedges in one layer. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with about 1 cup of the pasta sauce – enough to lightly cover the dish. Transfer wedges to the baking dish and line them against each other in two rows. If necessary, pack the wedges tightly to avoid creating a second layer.

Distribute onion slices evenly over the eggplant. Cover with one more cup of sauce, leaving most of the eggplant exposed, but do not completely immerse in sauce. Top with crumbled feta and sprinkle with Parmesan, cover the dish with foil and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes; uncover and bake another 10-20 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.


Harvest Ratatouille with Bacon

Nothing says Mediterranean more than the classic ratatouille. This spin on an old favorite, amped up with chunks of crispy thick bacon, make it a robust meal.

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1 medium-sized eggplant (about 1½ lbs)

2 T olive oil

3-4 medium zucchini (or yellow squash or both, about 1½lbs), thickly sliced

1½ lbs. tomatoes, skin removed and roughly chopped

1 medium sweet bell pepper, largely diced

1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, chopped

12oz. thick cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T Herbs de Provence

Sea salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 425. Peel strips of the eggplant skin from top to bottom, leaving about an inch between each peel. Cut eggplant into large chunks . (If you prefer to leave the peel on, that’s fine, and likewise, removing it entirely is fine). Transfer the eggplant on to a cookie sheet, salt lightly and drizzle with olive oil. Cover tightly with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.

 

While the eggplant is cooking, heat a Dutch oven (or a large deep skillet) and sauté the bacon until fairly crisp. Transfer pieces to a bowl. If there is more than 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings left in the pan, pour off the excess. Add the onion, garlic and peppers into the Dutch oven. Cook until lightly softened, add the zucchini and Herbs de Provence. Cook the zucchini until it begins to soften, about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in the tomatoes to release the skin. Rinse immediately in cold water and peel the skin from the tomatoes. Coarsely chop the tomatoes, transfer them to the Dutch oven and cook for about 5 minutes.

 

Remove the eggplant from the oven, add it to the Dutch oven; add the bacon pieces. Let the ratatouille cook together another 20 minutes; adjust the seasoning for salt and pepper. At this point the ratatouille can sit in the Dutch oven off the heat for several hours, allowing the flavors to meld. Serves 6-8.

 

 


Eggplant and Red Pepper Terrine

eggplant-redpepper-terrine

 

This lovely terrine makes a great first course, or, served warmed in the oven, a filling side dish.  From Simply Recipes.

 

Terrine ingredients:

1 large jar roasted red peppers
2 large, firm eggplants (about 2 lbs)
1/4 C oil – olive oil or grapeseed oil
1½ C loosely-packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
3/4 tsalt
½ t freshly ground black pepper
8 oz of fresh Mozzarella, cut into 1/8-in slices, about 14 slices

Raw tomato sauce:

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 to 3 ripe tomatoes (1 1/4 lbs), chunked
1/4 C virgin olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
½  t salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

Heat a grill or grill pan until very hot. Cut the eggplants into ½-inch slices and slices on both sides with oil, and sprinkle with salt. Cook the eggplant slices on the grill, covered, for 4 minutes on each side, until they are nicely browned and softened. While the eggplant is grilling, soften the parsley by blanching it in boiling water for 5 to 10 seconds. Remove, cool under cold water, drain.

Line a terrine mold (loaf pan) with plastic wrap. Arrange a layer of eggplant in the bottom of the mold and top it with about a third each of red pepper pieces, parsley, and cheese. Repeat, beginning and ending with a layer of eggplant, until all the ingredients are used. Cover with plastic wrap and press on the wrap to compact the mixture. Refrigerate.

Prepare the sauce. Place the garlic and tomatoes in a blender and blend until smooth. Optional, push the mixture through a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Add the remainder of the sauce ingredients. Mix well.

To serve, pour some of the sauce on a large platter and unmold the terrine in the center. Cut it into slices and serve with the remainder of the sauce.


Grilled Eggplant Dressed in Olives & Orange

eggplant anchovy

This is another variation on grilled eggplant, from the good folks at Fine Cooking. The densely flavored vinaigrette can be drizzled on lamb, fish or chicken, or on oven-roasted vegetables.

For the vinaigrette:

2 anchovy fillets (preferably salt packed), rinsed
1 small clove garlic
Kosher salt
1/4 C black olives, such as Niçoise or Kalamata, rinsed well, pitted, and chopped finely
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
1 T fresh orange juice
2 T red-wine vinegar; more to taste
½ t finely chopped orange zest
Freshly ground black pepper

chopped mint for garnish

For the eggplant:

1 large globe eggplant (about 1 lb.), trimmed and cut into ½-inch-thick rounds
3 T extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
Kosher salt

Make the vinaigrette:

Mash anchovy and garlic, adding a pinch of salt as needed to make a paste. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Whisk in the olives, olive oil, orange juice, vinegar, and orange zest. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more red wine vinegar, if necessary.

Grill the eggplant:

Prepare a medium-high charcoal or gas grill fire or use a grill pan, set at medium-high. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil and season with salt. Grill until golden-brown grill marks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the eggplant and grill until tender and well marked on the second sides, 3 to 4 minutes more. The interior should be grayish and soft rather than white and hard.  Just before serving, whisk the vinaigrette again and spoon it over the grilled eggplant—you may not need it all—or serve on the side. Garnish with chopped mint.