Somewhere in the middle of the canning craze I hit a food funk. It happens. Nothing sounds good (except jam), or when something does sound good it is too involved, too time consuming for the small slot of time available, or what sounds good is exactly what is not in your stuffed to the gills produce-filled fridge. I made a couple variations on saimin using kale, frozen dumplings, hard boiled eggs and broth. I made a variety of veg+starch+dinner meals (pasta with tomatoes, pasta with kale, rice & stir-fry). But the one dish that I made amongst the crazy that I’ve been itching to tell you about is this eggplant bruschetta. I had a couple eggplants sitting in the fridge, I had forgotten that I meant to make the eggplant enchiladas the next time (now) I had eggplant. At the bookstore, I opened up How to Pick a Peach and discovered it had recipes. Why didn’t I notice this before, in those three weeks I had it checked out from the library? It had two that won my heart and screamed “make me right now” (I only made one and have temporarily forgotten about the other) and bonus, it was on sale. But then I didn’t get around to making this dish for another few days, thank goodness I could toast the bread since baguettes are stale 3 days after buying them. I think a batch of salsa, a 15 mile bike ride and a couple dinner invitations got in the way.
Sure, it isn’t the prettiest dish, but oh yum. Now that I think about it, eggplant might be winning my heart because it is yet another vehicle to ingest copious amounts of garlic, and this eggplant is even more garlic-icious than the last recipe I made (partially due to not scaling down for the size of my eggplant). Also, much easier to make. I think it is supposed to be an appetizer, but we just had a dinner of “small plates” that night, bruschetta and sliced tomatoes with a sprinkle of salt and pepper (one of the best summer dinners ever, amazing that what was probably a desperation dinner for my mom turned into a eagerly awaited meal for me).
Smoky Eggplan Bruschetta from How to Pick a Peach by Russ Parsons
- 2 -1 lb. eggplants
- 2 t minced garlic
- 1 t minced fresh rosemary
- 1 T olive oil
- 2 t red wine vinegar
- 1 t lemon juice
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 baguette
- 2 oz pecorino romano cheese
A couple notes: the author states to resist the urge to use a food processor to puree the eggplant because that would give it “the texture of baby food”, also the olive oil should be fruity.
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Poke the eggplant a couple times, but otherwise leave it whole (I did cut off the stem, I don’t know if this is standard protocol with eggplant), stick it in a pan of some sort (I chose my 9 x 13 pyrex) and put it in the oven for about 1 hour, until it is soft and “collapsed” (mine didn’t collapse but were soft so I called it good). Let the eggplant cool so you can handle it.
IMO, you should deal with the bread while you are letting the ggplant cool, to take advantage of the already hot oven. The author recommends the broiler or the grill, I just used the oven at 400. Slice the baguette into 1/2″ thick pieces (eyeball it and make it whatever feels appropriate to bite into – personally I hate bruschetta where the bread barely fits in your mouth). I placed my slices on a cookie sheet (it took 2 for my largish loaf of bread), lightly brushed one side with olive oil and placed it in the oven. After, um, 2 or 4 minutes I took the sheets out, flipped all the slices and put it in for an additional 2 minutes or so. Just beginning to look golden but not so toasty that they break into a thousand pieces when you bite into them, but not so soft that they don’t store nicely either. I know, so precise.
Okay. The topping. When the eggplant is cool, slice each eggplant in half and scoop out the flesh, roughly chop it and put it in a medium sized bowl. Add the garlic, rosemary and olive oil then stir until the eggplant sort of falls apart (more so than it was). Season with salt and add the vinegar and lemon juice. Finally stir in the tomato.
To serve place a spoonful of eggplant puree on top a piece of the toasted bread. Top with a thin slice of cheese. Or not, personally I felt the cheese added nothing to the dish (I even, by stroke of luck, had the correct cheese instead of my usual subbing of “ah, close-enough”), but TheHusband disagreed and felt it did add something to it. You could of course serve this dip-style too.
We put the leftovers in a mason jar, the leftover bread in another container and ate the remaining bruschetta as a picnic on an impromptu date night two days later. It was still fabulous.