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abundant eggplant

We planted a rather large garden in early spring. This year is our first foray into gardening, at least gardening on a scale larger than containers. Despite the lack of rain this summer and putting a cap on our skyrocketing water bills, the garden is producing a bounty of lovely vegetables and herbs. Among the many varieties we have grown, one of my favorites is the eggplant. I still marvel at the perfect beauty each time i pick one. Their color and shape seem destined for a photo shoot. I have only a few recipes that call for eggplant, so i have had to seek out new ones as fast as i can harvest. This one came from the September issue of Food & Wine magazine. Enjoy!

Eggplant, Pear and Pecorino Salad 4 Servings

⅓ cup walnuts One 1 ¼ lb. eggplant, peeled and sliced lengthwise ¼ inch thick Extra-virgin olive oil Salt and freshly ground pepper 1 tbl unsalted butter 2 Bosc pears - peeled, cored and sliced lengthwise ¼ inch thick 1 tbl Cognac or other brandy 1 small garlic clove, minced 1 ½ tbl red wine vinegar 2 tbl chopped parsley 1 tbl chopped chives 1 tbl honey Thin shavings of Pecorino Toscano cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a pie plate, toast the walnuts for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool, then coarsely chop.
  2. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the eggplant slices with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant over moderately high heat until lightly browned and tender, about 2 minutes per side.
  3. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the pear slices and cook over moderate heat, tossing, until just starting to soften, 3 minutes. Add the Cognac and toss the pears to coat thoroughly; remove from the heat.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk 3 tbl of oil with the garlic, vinegar, 1 tbl of parsley and ½ tbl of chives. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
  5. Arrange the eggplant slices on a platter and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Arrange the pear slices over the eggplant and drizzle with the honey. Scatter the walnuts, cheese and the remaining 1 tbl of parsley and ½ tbl of chives over the top. Serve.