Saturday, May 02, 2009

Catalan Eggplant with Cheese and Honey

Seasonal Recipe of the Week
Eggplant has never been my favorite vegetable. The only thing I love to make with eggplant is Baba Ganouj, which is a roasted eggplant spread with tahini, garlic lemon juice and olive oil. But there must be other things to do with eggplant. I understand they are easy to grow and I was considering planting them in my garden, but before I do that, I figured I better find some other cool ways to prepare them. And then I found this recipe in Paula Wolfert's book World of Food, and I knew it was time to buy the plant starts.

3 small eggplants (about 1/2 pound each) cut in half
Kosher salt
2/3 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
Olive oil
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Fresh grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons local honey

Scoop out the eggplants, leaving a thin shell. Cut the scooped-out pulp into large chunks. In a large saucepan, cook the pulp in boiling salted water over medium high heat ‘til flesh is soft — about 10 minutes. Then drain in colander and let cool. Meanwhile, sprinkle eggplant shells with one teaspoon of salt and let drain for twenty minutes. When pulp is cool enough to handle, press out all moisture. Set aside 2 tablespoons of grated Gruyere and mix the rest into the eggplant along the Parmesan cheese, whole egg and egg yolk. Put the mixture into your food processor and puree till smooth. Now add salt and pepper and nutmeg.

Preheat oven to 425. Rinse and drain eggplant shells and pat them dry with paper towels. Slowly heat about 1/2 inch of olive oil in an 8-inch non-stick skillet. When oil is hot add 3 eggplant shells and in a single layer and slowly fry turning once until they collapse and attached pulp is tender and golden brown — about 3 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels and fry the rest of the eggplant shells, Arrange the eggplant shells in a shallow baking dish. Fill each shell with pureed mixture, mounding it slightly in the center. Sprinkle reserved Gruyere cheese on top and drizzle with honey. Bake in the upper third of your oven for 20 minutes or until puree browns on top. You can prepare these up to 4 hours ahead and bake when ready.