Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dinner on the Fly: Baked Eggplant with Tomato, Ricotta and Basil Oil

Are you tired of these super simple recipe posts yet? Just let me know and I will post some twenty-seven step French entree that spins and shoots off fireworks in front of your dinner guests.  It's not that I am lazy.  It's just that these late summer vegetables won't last forever.  I don't want to make them saucy or cook them down to a ragu.  I want to taste them the way they are right now.  I want to savor their bright flavor as I squint into the low, golden sunshine of Indian Summer.  I hope school never starts.

Don't bother making this dish if your tomatoes are not sweet.  They must be red, not orange.  Do you hear me?  Because that is the color of a tomato.  Red.  Ideally you should use a small, fresh eggplant but if you have one of the large purple-black ones from the super market, slice them in rounds, salt them and let them stand for about twenty minutes to half an hour.  This should take some of the bitterness out of them.  Basil is a must here.  If I only plant one herb in the Spring, (which this Spring I did) it is basil.  It smells like the color green to me.  Hurricane Irene uprooted my basil plant (thankfully our only damage) so I pureed the last of its fragrant leaves in olive oil.  That way we could hold on to its flavor a little longer.  The ricotta is homemade which is surprisingly easy and a recipe post to come.  In fact I have a new contributor to this blog.  Janice, will you do the honors please?

I am stopping here.  Let me post this before it is too late.  Run to your farmer's market!  Get the last tomatoes and eggplant before they are gone! 

Baked Eggplant, with Sliced Tomato, Ricotta and Basil Oil
  • One large tomato, very fresh, very red, sliced
  • One small eggplant cut into rounds
  • Olive oil
  • sea salt
  • one dollop of ricotta
  • drizzle of balsamic vinegar or balsamic cream (essentially like a balsamic reduction and can be bought in specialty stores or homemade) I found a great recipe for balsamic reduction however  here.
For the basil oil:
  • One 2 foot overturned basil plant or 4 cups of basil leaves 
  • 1 to 2 cups of olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and cut into quarters
  • sea salt
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss your eggplant rounds in a sprinkle of sea salt and olive oil.  You want enough olive oil to coat your eggplant.  The eggplant will absorb your olive oil quickly, so you don't want to let this sit.  Spread them out on your baking sheet with some space between them.  Not much, just enough so that they are not touching. Bake until they are tender and the skins are slightly shriveled.  In a food processor, add your basil leaves and garlic and pulse.  Add your olive oil slowly and in batches in order to get the consistency that you want.  Salt to taste.

Layer your eggplant over the sliced tomato.  Add a dollop of ricotta (preferably home-made but we will get to that later) and drizzle with the basil oil and balsamic cream.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah you got the right idea here. When vegetables are at their peak they need just a little attention like you gave.
    I'm new to gardening, my lettuce and herbs went beserk and the stalks look like small trees. My BW sez they "went to seed", whatever that means. My tomatoes were so disappointing last year that this season I ripped up tall grass over septic tank and planted 6 tomato plants there. Production was so enormous I had to make a gallon of sauce; I just trimmed them and put them in a hot stockpot added dried basil, white wine and a pinch of sugar. They were ripening so rapidly I did new things with them. Sliced them raw atop my pizza dough with oil and seasoning and made my pizza with no sauce. Was very well received, so when I saw your cylindrical eggplant I just had to tell you about my veg experience. Excuse my rambling.
    Best to you.