By the time eggplant season is finished. everyone in the family is tired of it.
Here’s a simple, tasty recipe that’s not as much a recipe as techniques to use garden abundance in mid summer. The savory flavor will have diners coming back for more.
The first part is preparing eggplant slabs for the dish and for freezing.
Cut two half-inch slabs lengthwise from the middle of each eggplant and reserve the smaller portions from the sides. Skin on or off, your choice.
Lightly salt the slab of eggplant and drizzle extra virgin olive oil on it until both sides are coated. Place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Cut slabs from all the large eggplants you have and line them up.
Place the pan in a 450 degree preheated oven and bake for 8 minutes. Take the pan out and flip each slab using tongs and put them back in the oven for another seven to eight minutes. Take them out and set the pan on a cooling rack.
Once cooled, what is not needed for the dish can be frozen, then bagged up in zip top bags for later in the year. Great to use these in Eggplant Parmesan.
The dish has three components: the eggplant slab, quarter inch slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, and a vegetable ragout.
The ragout is a way of using what’s available. Put a frying pan on the burner with a tablespoon of high smoke point cooking oil. I diced an onion, diced the reserved small slices of eggplant, finely sliced garlic scapes, fresh celery, and two hot peppers (jalapeno or Serrano). Any combination of what needs to be used up should serve. Sautee until the onions begin to soften.
While the vegetables are sauteing, grate half a large zucchini on a piece of parchment paper and set it aside. Halve eight to ten cherry or grape tomatoes and put them with the zucchini. Check the vegetables and once soft add the zucchini and tomatoes and stir constantly until the zucchini begins to cook. Don’t overcook the zucchini.
In individual baking dishes, or in a glass baking pan if you don’t have individual, line up one or two eggplant slabs per serving, depending on size. Next place a slice of fresh mozzarella on each large slab of eggplant. Top with the ragout and put another slice of mozzarella in the middle on top. Put the dish in to the oven and warm it for 10 minutes or until the cheese melts.
Take it out, transfer it to a plate, salt and pepper to taste, and the entree is finished. If you like, top it off with a poached egg.
Note: I did not use any seasoning other than salt and pepper and the dish was quite savory. If you have herbs and spices on hand, feel free to add your favorites.