In an ideal world, I would only cook with produce that is in season. There are several reasons for this. 1) If a product is in season and in your grocery store, there’s a higher chance it’s local. When we buy out of season produce, it has been shipped from somewhere with a different climate- which is bad for the environment. 2) There is a huge financial benefit to shopping in season! Produce is cheaper when it’s naturally time for it to be harvested. 3) There are health benefits to shopping in season. If we follow the calendar year and eat what is available in each season, we will most likely increase the variety of produce we consume, and thus nutrients we intake. Seasons are Mother Nature’s way of balancing our diet.
I still have a lot to learn about the seasons for different fruits and vegetables, but one season I have been looking forward to is eggplant season. And good news! Here it is! The natural season for eggplants is from July to October, with some slight variations based on location. Eggplant was not a common vegetable I ate as a child, but as my obsession for reading recipes has begun, I have been dying to try several eggplant recipes. It’s a very versatile produce and can be prepared in numerous ways.
The recipe I have here today calls for oven roasted eggplant slices that are then topped with a delicious tomato based salad- almost like bruschetta but with eggplant slices instead of bread! It’s perfect for a meal for 2, or as an appetizer or side dish! Happy eggplant season, and happy cooking!
- 1 to 2 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds eggplant (about 2 medium), in 3/4- to 1-inch slices
- 2 ounces (1/2 cup)
- ½ cup crumbled goat cheese or crumbled ricotta salata*
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 1/3 cup finely diced red onion
- 3 seeded, diced medium tomatoes (1 1/2 cups)
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
- 2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and prepare a baking sheet by coating with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. I suggest using a pastry brush to really cover the entire sheet!
- Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the baking sheet, sprinkling each slice with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Roast the eggplant for 15 to 20 minutes, without disturbing it.
- After roasting, remove the eggplant from the oven and flip each piece. They should flip with ease, and the underside should be dark and slightly blistery. If the slices are not dark and blistered, allow them to cook for another few minutes.
- Sprinkle the tops with salt and pepper again, and return the eggplant to the oven- roasting for another 10- 12 minutes.
- While the eggplant is cooking: in a small bowl, combine the crumbled cheese, capers, onion, tomatoes, mint, vinegar, and the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil.*
- Serve each slice of eggplant with a scoop of the tomato salad on top of each round. Serve immediately.
Notes and Tips!:
- Yield: Makes about 4 appetizer/salad portions, assuming people will eat two rounds each.
- Feel free to season the tomato mixture more as desired- adding salt, crushed black pepper, more vinegar, oregano, parsley, etc.
- The original recipe calls for ricotta salata, however I used goat cheese because it’s what I had in the house and found it to be delicious.
- Tip: In order to save left overs for another time, store the tomato salad and eggplant in separate sealed containers in the refrigerator. This will work best if the eggplant has not yet been coated with the tomato mixture. Thus, only serve up the eggplant rounds based on what is called for originally. You can always serve a second round with more tomato mixture, or allow for people to top their own eggplant slices as desired.
- Source: Smitten Kitchen