One night, the DIVAs were sitting around the dining room table, and we got on the discussion of foods that we were intimidated by. Lobsters, artichokes (… the ones not in a can…), and mine – Eggplant. I had never cooked it with it before. So we decided that night for over the next several DIVA dinners, we each would tackle our Food Fear. We could either try to make a recipe we found, or create one. After reading all there is to know about eggplants in The Joy of Cooking, I took the plunge. I served this as a starter for the DIVA Christmas Dinner. There were no leftovers.
- 1 Large Eggplant, cut into ½-inch-thick rounds
- 24 Cherry Tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
- Good olive oil
- Aged Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 Garlic cloves, minced
- Goat Cheese, crumbled
- Pine Nuts, toasted
- Black Pepper
Trim the stem of the eggplant, and cut into ½-inch thick round discs. Generously sprinkle pieces with coarse salt. Place them in a non-reactive colander and let drain for 30 to 60 minutes. Turn onto a thick towel and gently press out excess moisture. Lightly rub the pieces in the towel to rub off the salt and dry them.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with the garlic, salt and pepper. Roast for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tomatoes start to caramelize and the flavors are concentrated.
On a separate sheet pan, arrange the eggplant in a single layer. Repeat the same steps as used above for the tomatoes on the eggplant.
While the tomatoes and eggplant are roasting, place a handful of pinenuts into a dry sauce pan. Toast the pinenuts at a low to medium heat until they are lightly browned.
Prep individual salad plates with drizzles of balsamic. Stack layers of eggplant and tomatoes. Top each plate with the crumbled goat cheese and toasted pinenuts. Can be served warm or room temperature.