So I am going to try a series over the next few months highlighting different veggies, some you (and I) probably have not heard of and as we get more into winter some that we have all heard of but may not know the best way to eat.
First off is the humble Sicilian eggplant. Which I had never heard of until I came across one at a Jersey farm stand last weekend. They are shaped more like a tomato and have a much thinner skin then the regular eggplants. Once I got it home and started thinking about what to make the only thing I really wanted was an eggplant parm situation using some delicious heirloom tomatoes that I bought (and accidentally left in my market bag). I wanted to approximate the flavor of tomato sauce while still leaving everything in slices so I could stack it all at the end.
I took the eggplant and the tomatoes and cut them into evenish slices so that I had 8 of each. The tomatoes then went on a cookie sheet with a sprinkle of salt at 300 degrees for 50 minutes. Since the tomatoes were being cooked so simply, since really they need so little flavor this time of year, I needed to add the normal flavors that I put in my tomato sauce into the eggplant. I sauteed sliced garlic and onions in olive oil with some crushed red pepper (about 1Tish), and once that was hot I added four slices of eggplant and cooked them for about two minutes, flipped them, and added another 2 tablespoons of oil to make sure that each piece got oiled nicely. From there I added 1/4 cup of red wine to the skillet, covered it, and let them cook for about five minutes. Keep an eye on your eggplant as the cooking time will depend on how thick it is cut. That set of eggplant then got transferred to a plate and popped into the oven to stay warm while I did the second batch.
While the tomatoes finished roasting and the eggplant rendered itself all silky I sliced my mozzarella (you can use shredded put using balls and slicing them is really so much tastier).
Once everything was done I layered it all together, eggplant, tomato, mozzarella, eggplant, tomato, mozzarella. I layered it in the skillet and then popped the lid back on for about 5 minutes (with the heat off) so the flavors could all combine and the cheese could melt nicely.
While it sounds complicated it really wasn’t once you got everything sliced and going it was super simple.