07 September 2007

baked eggplant with feta and tomatoes

AFter my produce delivery left me without basil, I had to change my plans from the egglplant with basil and feta that I'd been craving. I remembered that a couple years ago I jotted down a recipe from a seed catalog at my mom's house, stuck it in my recipe notebook, and never made it. Left with a giant eggplant and handfuls of tomatoes but no basil, it seemed like a good time to try it.

From the Seeds of Change print catalog (they don't appear to have this recipe on their website). I've typed this in here exactly as I wrote it down at the time. The original recipe in the catalog might be different.
4 eggplants
1/3 cup olive oil
feta cheese
salt & pepper
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

Preheat oven to 375. Slice eggplant in half lengthwise and score cut sides in criss-cross pattern. Heat 3 Tbl oil in large skillet. Add eggplant, cut sides down, and fry over medium-high heat until golden. Fry other side for a few minutes then remove to plate and salt and pepper. Wipe out pan. Heat 1 Tbl oil, add tomatoes and cook over medium-high heat until broken down into chunky sauce, 5 to 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Put eggplant cut sides up in a baking dish. Crumble cheese, spoon tomato over, sprinkle with dried oregano. Cover and bake until eggplant is tender, about 40 minutes. Uncover and back 5 minutes more.

First off, I used just one eggplant for the two of us (we still ended up with some leftovers). I had to pan fry the eggplant slices one at a time, and the eggplants soak up a lot of oil. But maybe I used too little; I didn't measure. Be very careful when handling slippery eggplant halves around hot oil! I had a bit of a splash and thankfully didn't get any oil on my skin, but hopefully did not ruin a favorite pair of shorts.

I used 5 or 6 roma tomatoes, which weren't very juicy. I chopped them ahead of time, not removing the skins or seeds--we like lots of chunky texture. I let them sit in a bowl for a bit with some salt to help bring out the juice and I minced 3 cloves of garlic and tossed it in to sit with the tomatoes.

The garlicky tomatoes smelled so good during their heating up time that I became very hopeful for this dish. I don't really like eggplant that much but it's a good vehicle for foods I do like. I spooned my tomatoes over the eggplant and crumbled my feta, then put it in the oven and forgot about it for 40 minutes. I forgot to add any dried herbs, but I think I'll add them next time. I also think I'll pay closer attention to the eggplants while baking because they were a tad too mushy. I think a few minutes less would have been better.

Anyway, it's a pretty basic meal, and I'm sure just about everyone out there can do something better with eggplant than I can.

(For a premeal snack we had cantaloupe and prosciutto, both from my food delivery yesterday. Super yummy.)

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