Our first-ever farmbox eggplant showed up the other day. I'd worked with eggplant only once before when I tried a simple recipe I found in a big pasta cookbook from the commissary library. My recollection is that I had to salt the eggplant slices, let them sit for half an hour, and press out the moisture so that any bitterness was removed. Given the level of prep involved, the resulting dish was not really worth it.
Fast forward to now. While looking for eggplant recipes in Joy of Cooking, I learn that you only have to do the whole salting-and-sitting routine if the eggplant is old. Ok, I thought, farmbox eggplant is probably a lot fresher than what I can get at Large Corporate Supermarket, so I can skip that step. Amazingly, it (or not doing it, rather) worked! The eggplant in my dish (rolled stuffed eggplant) was good and not the least bit bitter. Here's the recipe in case you're interested:
3/4 c. shredded provolone or mozzarella cheese
3/4 c. ricotta cheese
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh marjoram or basil
1 sm. clove garlic, minced
1 lg. eggplant (about 1 1/4 lb)
extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly oil a glass baking dish. Combine all of the above ingredients (other than eggplant and olive oil) in a bowl until well mixed. Cut eggplant lengthwise into 1/4" thick slices. Brush both sides of slices with olive oil and cook in a skillet until golden, about 5 minutes per side. Remove slices to a platter until cool. Spread a mound of cheese mixture at the base of each eggplant slice, then roll it up. Arrange the rolls in the baking dish seam side down. Cover the dish with foil and bake until heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve w/your favorite tomato sauce.
At the end of the day, the eggplant rolls taste a lot like lasagna, with the noodle part being replaced by the eggplant (obviously). For a side dish, I found this great risotto recipe, also in Joy of Cooking. It jumped out at me since it involves sweet corn and basil, two things I had on hand and was looking to use up. For those of you unfamiliar w/risotto, it mostly requires standing at the stove and stirring for about an hour, but the extra effort is worth it. Molto bene....
1 c. diced seeded peeled ripe tomatoes (I used canned w/liquid drained)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. salt or to taste
5 c. chicken stock or broth
2 c. corn kernels
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 c. finely chopped scallions (white part only)
1 1/2 c. arborio rice
1/2 c. dry white wine
grated Parmesan cheese
Combine tomatoes, basil, lime juice, and salt in a bowl. Bring chicken stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Puree 1 c. of corn kernels in a food processor. Heat butter in a large, heavy saucepan or dutch oven until the foam subsides. Add scallions and cook, stirring until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat with butter. Add white wine and stir constantly until absorbed. Add 1 c. of the simmering stock and stir constantly over medium-low heat until absorbed. Add remaining stock, 1/2 c. at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is almost absorbed before adding more. After 15 minutes, stir in pureed corn and another 1/2 c. stock. Continue cooking, stirring, and adding stock in 1/2 c. intervals until all stock has been added. Once rice is tender, but slightly firm in the center, add remaining corn and tomato mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
I have to mention that the risotto got better and better upon sitting in the fridge for a couple of days. Ahh...the magic of decay.....