At the last of our farmers’ markets in town here, I snagged the last of the eggplants from one of the vendors. They’re small, but I’m a sucker for cute little vegetables.
It seems a waste to dice them up, so I thought I’d do something that retained a hint of their diminutive size.
When I started considering recipes, I peeked at Marcella Hazan’s Classic Italian Cooking (I will be eternally grateful to her for introducing me to quick pesto, which we eat all the time at my house). Alas, her suggestions for eggplant were few. More troubling was her statement that small eggplants tend to be bitter. How can that be? I cried. When I checked other sources (would you believe that Google filled in the blanks for me with “are small eggplants bitter?”), they strongly disagreed. Sorry, Marcella.
So I decided to try an eggplant-potato tart, mainly because when sliced, the potatoes and the eggplants are just about the same in diameter. Slice them so they will cook at about the same rate.
I will admit that I don’t really like peeling anything. My theory is, if your vegetables/potatoes/fruits are young enough and fresh enough, it won’t matter. Besides, the peels are good for you—roughage, you know. (I would not necessarily say this of big, tough eggplants, but I do eat the skins of my baked potatoes.)
Traditionally recipes call for salting the eggplant to draw out the liquid, lest the dish become soggy when cooked. I’m of two minds about that, but I guess it can’t hurt. Just dry off the slices before you start sautéing, and make sure you don’t oversalt in the next stages.
Cooking oil for the pan
½ stick (1/4 cup) butter
breadcrumbs or panko and/or grated Parmesan cheese for the top
This can be a main course for a light meal, or a side dish for a larger one (I think it would go well with a roast). If you feel like experimenting, you can add some herbs such as oregano when you’re creating the layers.
Coming November 22nd
No recipes, but lots of food!