If you’ve noticed that I haven’t been posting recipes lately on my blog, it’s for a simple reason. I haven’t been cooking. We are currently suffering through a heatwave here in Rome and the thought of even entering my kitchen, much less turning on any form of heat, is just too scary to contemplate.
So I’ve been going out to restaurants, and even going out of town, as often as possible. Last weekend we spent a couple of much welcome days at our house in Umbria, between renters, where I got to enjoy cool evening breezes, long soaks in the pool as well as a much missed return to the kitchen.
I love this time of year because I can cook straight from our vegetable garden. With out any ahead-of-time planning what so ever, delicious meals magically appear on the table with little effort. The vegetables are so fresh that I barely have to do anything to them to turn them into a meal.
This year we planted a lot of long, Japanese type, eggplants, so this formed the center of lunch on Sunday. I’m writing the recipe down below, but feel free to mess around with it. The basic rules to follow are: cut the eggplants in half, then stuff a mixture of herbs and/or onions and garlic, into those slits. Oil them up generously and roast in an oven till tender and golden. Near the end, put something on top to make it less of a side dish and more of a main dish. I chose mozzarella and olives, but I’m thinking other toppings could include parmigiano, ricotta or smoked scamorza and anchovies, capers or hot peppers.
And by all means play around with the herb side of things. I used a mixture of basil, parsley, chives and a spring onion (because that is all I had in the garden) but I wish I had had some garlic too.
I served them at room temperature, so feel free to make them ahead of time. And in fact, if you want to know the truth, I had one that was left over straight out of the fridge, cold, the next day for breakfast. Because, I was back in Rome by then, and heating anything up was not on my agenda.
- 8 small Japanese type Eggplants
- 1 cup packed, fresh herbs
- 1-2 scallions
- 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- ½ cup pitted, chopped, black olives
- salt, pepper
- Cut each eggplant in half, lengthwise. Sprinkle lightly with salt and let the bitter juices drain out, for about an hour. Pat dry.
- Using a mini chopper chop the herbs and scallions until pretty fine, kind of like pesto consistency, along with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
- Using a sharp knife, cut 2 or 3 slits into each eggplant half, being careful not to cut all the way through. Bending the eggplants carefully, opening up the slits, stuff the herb mixture in. A bit fussy, but you’ll get the hang of it.
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C
- Place the eggplants on parchment covered baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and rub all over. Season with salt and pepper. Place in oven and bake till tender and golden.
- When the eggplants are done, take them out, and top with cheese and olives. Place back in oven for about 5 minutes or just until mozzarella melts. Serve topped with torn fresh basil.