As I was thumbing through my cookbooks, looking for a good eggplant recipe I found this, eggplant torte a la provencal, in a now lesser used cookbook, The Occasional Vegetarian. This cookbook was an outlet bookstore find (wait, this might have been a gift and my Vegetable Heaven cookbook was the three-dollar find), and I’ve made a few winning, repeat worthy dishes from this book. This dish, might be just that, but my preparation was doomed from the start.
Monday, 6 pm: Okay, what do I need to make that eggplant dish? Step 1) sprinkle with salt and let sit for an hour. Well crap, I guess it would be better for me to make green bean enchiladas anyway, those green beans aren’t going to last much longer.
Tuesday, 5-ish pm: Must make list and grab that tomato and red onion, oh but I need to get dishes done too. [An hour goes by while I’m on the phone, at least I get the dishes done; and TheHusband calls to say he will be home late, whew.]
Tuesday 6:30 pm. I salt the eggplant and head to the store.
Tuesday 7:30 pm I rinse the eggplant, pat it dry and prep the remaining ingredients. At that point I turn over the page* and discover step 4 is sauteing the eggplant about 3 minutes on both sides. I’m really regretting my use of this skinny (Japanese?) eggplant now. 20+ minutes and 4 frying pan batches later I’m done cooking the eggplant. Mmm, this eggplant is tasty, it is too bad I already have those potatoes, tomatoes and onion sliced. I wonder if I could treat this dish like a roasted veggie dish instead? If it tastes good I’ll try that next time…I start layering the veggies and lament that I didn’t pick a bigger “baking pan” (what defines a baking pan anyway, is it a specific size?)…
Tuesday 8:45 pm: I manage to put the torte in the oven. Of course I have leftover eggplant (not much), potato, tomato and onion slices — and I’m starving. I look at the potato and think breakfast burritos! And so despite spending over an hour assembling this dish, I ate egg burritos (with potatoes, red onion, tomatoes and pepper jack cheese) for dinner. They were darn tasty egg burritos and I just hope that this eggplant torte is good at room temperature like the recipe states.
* One of my biggest complaints about this book (other than her extreme fondness of leeks, which isn’t really a problem except on the budget) is the fact that recipes are jammed in, and too often the ingredient list will be on one page while the bulk of the directions are on the next page.
And now the recipe, remember, you have been warned.
Eggplant Torte a la Provencal from The Occasional Vegetarian by Karen Lee with Diane Porter
- 2 medium eggplants (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2″ thick rounds
- 1 teaspoon salt
Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and set aside for 1 hour. Rinse and pat dry between non-linty towels.
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1/2 t dried thyme
Pour the olive oil into a small saucepan and turn the heat on medium. Chop the garlic and add it to the pan. Take the pan off the heat at this point. Crush the thyme in your palm and stir it into the oil.
- 2 medium potatoes (about 1/2 pound), peeled and sliced in 3/8″ thick rounds
- 2 medium tomatoes, sliced in 3/8″ thick rounds
- 1 medium red onion, sliced in 3/8″ thick rounds
Heat a cast-iron skillet (the recipe is specific) to high and brush the seasoned oil on the eggplant slices. Saute them until brown (about 3 minutes), flip and cook until the other side is golden brown. Beware crowding the eggplant in the pan; repeat the process for all long as necessary. Keep the remaining seasoned oil. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
- 1/4 t black pepper
- 1 t salt
- 3/4 c fresh basil leaves, torn
- few sprigs thyme, optional
Add the pepper and salt to the remaining seasoned oil. Stir until combined.
Now prep a baking pan (my dish was too small – I had leftovers of all 4 main ingredients, I’d try a 9×13 pyrex pan next time, if there is a next time) by oiling the bottom. Begin layering the eggplant, potato, tomato and onion, leaving 1/2″ showing from the previous layer. Once you’ve used up the ingredients and/or filled your pan brush the remaining seasoned oil over the veggies, then stuff the basil leaves and thyme between the layers of veggies. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour.
update: I let a serving come to room temperature today for lunch, the eggplant was just as tasty as ever, but the potatoes seemed a little undercooked and overall I don’t think this was worth the effort. But I am dreaming up ways to combine the flavors again in an easier, less fussy format.