From swan to ugly duckling is the fate of eggplant roasted in a hot oven (or over low coals). Collapsed go its voluptuous curves into flattened furrows weeping liquid; gone is its proud sheen of skin turned dark and dull. But wait! Cut open, this shriveled package reveals wonderful soft, rich eggplant, waiting to be seasoned with onions and garlic cooked to sweetness in fruity olive oil. Served spread almost flat on a handsome plate and "painted" with curving lines of yogurt, then sprinkled with shreds of fresh mint, this duckling has an allure of its own.
2-1/2 pounds eggplant (2 medium to large)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium to large onion, very thinly sliced (1 cup)
3 medium to large garlic cloves, crushed with
the side of a knife
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons finely shredded mint leaves
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Pierce the eggplants with a sharp fork five or six times. Set them on a baking pan and roast, turning once, until completely soft when pressed and almost collapsing, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a heavy, medium skillet set over very low heat. Stir in the onion and garlic and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until the onion is light gold in color, very tender, and translucent, about 30 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and reserve.
Slice off and discard the stem ends of the eggplants. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, scrape out the flesh with a spoon, discard the skins, and chop the eggplant into roughly 1/2-inch pieces (you should have about 3-1/2 cups); discard any excess liquid.
Return the skillet to medium-low heat and stir in the eggplant. Cook the vegetables together, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until the flavors are well combined and no liquid remains. Stir in the lime juice (which will provide an almost imperceptible lift) and season generously with salt and pepper.
Serve the eggplant somewhat cool, but not cold, drizzled with yogurt and sprinkled with mint.
Roast or grill and chop the eggplant up to 2 days ahead. Drain the liquid that accumulates in the bowl before finishing the cooking.
Prepare the finished dish up to 3 days ahead and take it out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.
Come for Dinner
Memorable Meals to Share with Friends
by Leslie Revsin
John Wiley & Sons
Hardcover, 320 pages
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created October 2003
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