Last night, I had a date. A date with an eggplant.
Eggplant and I have had a touch-and-go relationship. Well, actually, there’s never been much touching. Maybe a one-night stand at my favorite Sri Lankan restaurant where they actually know how to prepare eggplant. Usually, though, my relationship with eggplant consists of me finding it in mediocre grilled vegetable sandwiches that are the only thing on the menu I can eat. The eggplant is always squishy.
So I tried last night to make amends with eggplant and cook something delicious. Here was my game plan: fried polenta, broiled eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted Anaheim pepper, balsamic onions. Pretty much everything I read recommended some combination of eggplant-tomato-pepper. Makes sense, as they’re all in season around the same time.
By the way, did you know eggplant is a berry? And in the same family as tomatoes? Never woulda guessed.
Anyway, the players:
- Balsamic onions: Slice an onion (I used red) into rings and saute over medium-low heat in olive oil until translucent and wiggly. Move to a bowl and cover in balsamic vinegar. Allow to steep until you’re ready to use them.
- Roasted pepper: I roasted my Anaheim pepper directly over the stove flame. I’m not sure I like setting things kind-of on fire in my kitchen. However, it worked well.
- Sun-dried tomatoes: Reconstituted in olive oil, which I then used to brush on the eggplant.
- Eggplant: Sliced into 1/2″ circles and salted for quite a while — an hour? more? Broiled for 5-ish minutes each side as in this recipe.
- Polenta: Pre-made polenta roll (will try to make my own soon), sliced into 1/2″ circles and pan-fried in olive oil.
Really good! The polenta had a little bit of a crust and lent a sweetness to the dish’s foundation. The eggplant was not squishy and had remarkable flavor — I think I’ll peel it next time, as the skins got a little tough. The tomatoes were just a little tangy and chewy, providing a nice complement to the roasted pepper. The balsamic onions, though, were what really tied the dish together, picking up on the tanginess of the tomatoes while making the polenta and eggplant more interesting.
I am so making this again. I really surprised myself!