Eggplant. If you said that word to me two years ago I would have made a face and said no thank you. Slimy and cold are two adjectives I associated with the purple vegetable. Enter my mother-in-law. She is so funny and endearing. When you meet her you realize that giving is very much her love language and it is her mission to make sure when you are in her presence that you are well fed. My husband teased one of his friends when they came home to visit from college one time that she would not leave his mother’s house without eating something regardless of if she was hungry or not. True to form my M.I.L offered pretty much the menu contained in Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I tease but I love this woman dearly and feel so blessed to know her and to be a part of her family.
So two years ago she gave us two little baby eggplant plants. We planted them in our garden and I watched their silver fuzzy leaves grow. Soon beautiful translucent purple flowers began to emerge and my heart began to soften. Then they gave us the fruit of their labor, deep purple veg streaked with lime green and hints of rich browns. My artist eyes loved them but my taste buds needed further prompting. The only recipe I knew of for eggplant was Eggplant Parmesan. We made it and it was okay. We found another recipe for Eggplant Feta dip and that was amazing! (I’ll share that one later). But the other night after harvesting a few stragglers I came up with this little appetizer. I’m…in…love! Its not slimy and is perfect for when your starving but dinner just isn’t ready yet. It takes a little prep but I think its worth the effort. Hope you enjoy it too!
One large eggplant or several small ones
Preheat your oven to around 410. Take one large eggplant or several smaller eggplants and cut them to about 1/2 inch slices. Lay out slices on a piece of paper towel and lightly salt the tops. Then flip them over and repeat. Lay another paper towel over the slices and let them sit for about ten minutes. This combination will dry out the veg so they won’t be slimy when they are cooked.
After 10 minutes baste both sides of the slices with balsamic vinaigrette and a touch of olive oil. Bake for 5 minutes then flip and bake for another 5 minutes. Pile some shredded Parmesan cheese over the tops of the eggplant, bake for another two minutes or so then set oven to broil. Leave in the oven just long enough to lightly brown the cheese, about a minute.
Serve warm and enjoy!