roasted eggplant with tomatoes and mint

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Roasted Eggplant with Ricotta and Mint

This is like eggplant bruschetta, except the eggplant is the bruschetta, topped with a Mediterranean summer salsa of a salad.

Feta is a great alternative to ricotta salata. If you’re put off by the sharpness of fresh onion, pour the red wine vinegar over it in a dish, and let it sit for 10 minutes, tossing it from time to time, before adding it to the salad. No need to add additional vinegar if you do. If you don’t like capers, you can substitute green or black olives. If you don’t care for mint, you can substitute flat-leaf parsley. If you don’t care for eggplant, well, thank you for reading along anyway! Ahem, or brush pitas or flatbreads with olive oil, grill them and dollop this salad/salsa on top.

Makes about 4 appetizer/salad portions, assuming people will eat two rounds each.

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) chopped 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. Coat a large baking sheet generously with olive oil, about 1 to 2 tablespoons. Arrange eggplant rounds in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast, without disturbing, for 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully flip each piece: the undersides should be blistery, dark and a bit puffy and should release from the pan with no effort. If they’re not, let it cook longer. Once flipped, sprinkle them with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper and return the pan to the oven for another 10 to 12 minutes or so, until the undersides match the tops.

[Alternatively, on the grill: Brush eggplant slices with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill eggplant slices until slightly charred and tender when pierced with knife, about 5 to 7 minutes per side.]

Meanwhile, mix your ricotta, capers, onion, tomatoes, mint, vinegar and remaining 4 teaspoons olive oil in a small bowl. Taste for seasoning; ricotta salata tends to be quite salty so I don’t find that this dish needs more than a pinch of salt, if that. Add more vinegar, if desired. Add freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

When the eggplant discs are done, arrange them on a serving platter. Scoop a spoonful of the salad over each round. Eat immediately.


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