In the UK an eggplant is an aubergine. We also call a zucchini a courgette. And of course a tomaydo is a tomahto…
One of my former college roommates moved to the UK a couple of years ago and we met up at a local pub when we were in England in April. Upon surveying the menu, she lamented the lack of vegetable options, saying: ”You go to the market (that would be supermarket in England) and they have all these wonderful vegetables, but in a restaurant they only serve peas and carrots!” So true. I have no idea why that is.
I like belonging to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) because I am forced to cook with veggies I would never buy in the grocery store, eggplant being one of them. I have this great book, Eating Local, The Cookbook Inspired by America’s Farmers, which contains some great recipes for your CSA veggies, along with some of the most beautiful vegetable pictures I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I think they must be airbrushed. In the book is a recipe for Grilled Eggplant Cannelloni with Ricotta and Prosciutto. This recipe, I realized, would use not only the eggplant but also the CSA onions, tomatoes, and garlic scape that had been languishing in the fridge for a while, waiting for me to do something with them. I made a modified version, sans prosciutto, so it could be a veggie dish. The recipe was a bit daunting at first (2 pages!) but I found it was actually very simple and had no problems making the recipe, even the tomato sauce. I thought tomato sauce came in a can.
Anyway, not only was it easy to make but it tasted delicious. I’ve actually made it twice and, seeing as there were eggplants in today’s CSA box, I plan to make it again! Here’s my modified recipe:
2 large eggplants, 1.25 to 1.5 pounds each
Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1.5 pounds plum tomatoes, chopped (no need to peel) (I used grape tomatoes from the CSA box)
8 to 12 fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher or sea salt
2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese (or one 15 oz container)
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, for topping
1. Slice off the eggplant’s green cap, then cut each eggplant lengthwise into slices about 1/3 inch thick. Discard the first and last slices, which are mostly skin. Sprinkle slices on both sides with salt, then set them on a rack and let stand for 30 minutes, Moisture will bead on the surface.
2. Prepare a moderate charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium (375F). Pat eggplant slices dry with paper towels, then brush on both sides with the olive oil. Place the slices directly over the coals or gas flame and cook, turning once, until they are nicely marked by the grill and pliable, about 3 mins each side. Set the slices aside on a tray to cool.
3. To make the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is soft and beginning to color, 5 to 10 mins. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until they soften and collapse into a sauce, about 10 minutes, depending on ripeness.
4. Remove from the heat, and pass the mixture through a food mill (I put it in the blender). Return the puree to the skillet over moderate heat. Tear the basil leaves in half and add to the skillet along with the oregano and salt to taste. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick.
5. To make the ricotta filling, put the ricotta, pecorino, parsley and garlic in a medium bowl. Stir until blended, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the egg.
6. Preheat the oven to 350F. Choose a shallow baking dish large enough to hold all the eggplant rolls snugly in one layer. Spread 1/3 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish.
7. Put a generous 2 tablespoons filling on each eggplant slice and spread it evenly. Carefully roll each slice like a jelly roll, and place the rolls, seam side down, in the baking dish.
Top with the remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle the pecorino over the top.
8. Bake until lightly browned and bubbling, about 45 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes before serving.
Enjoy! Do you have any eggplant recipes? Any vegetables that stump you?