Roasted Eggplant With Cheese

November 1, 2018

 

 

Recipe excerpted from Spain © 2018, Emily Lycopolus. Recipe and

images by DL Acken reprinted with the permission of TouchWood

Editions.  

Eggplant and Cheese in Catalonia

 

Eggplants and cheese is a traditional dish for the Jewish

community in Catalonia. According to the archives, during the

Inquisition, the inquisitors would look carefully at how people

were cooking their food to see if they were continuing to secretly

practice Judaism while claiming to have converted to

Catholicism.

 

This was a dark period in Spanish history, but some beautiful

recipes evolved during this time and, because of meticulous

record keeping, there is an amazing repository of food and recipe

information from the era.

 

Roasted Eggplant With Cheese, Serves Four

Berenjena con Queso

 

1 large eggplant

2 Tbsp sea salt

3/4 cup 2% milk

1/2 cup whipping (35%) cream

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Rosemary infused olive oil, divided

1 small white onion, finely chopped

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup chopped fresh curly parsley

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

sea salt and cracked black pepper

1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese

 

Slice the eggplant into 1–11/2-inch-thick rounds. Place two or three

sheets of paper towel on a cutting board or baking sheet and

sprinkle with a little of the salt.

 

Place the eggplant rounds on the  paper towel, sprinkle with the

remaining sea salt, and then cover  with more paper towel. Let

stand for 20–30 minutes to allow  the water to drain from the

eggplant.

 

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

 

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil.

Set the eggplant slices on a splash guard or in a flat-bottomed

strainer. Steam them for 3–4 minutes, until just soft and tender.

Ensure that the eggplant doesn’t touch the water. Carefully place

the eggplant in a single layer in the bottom of a baking dish or

roasting pan.

 

While the eggplant is resting, bring the milk and cream to a

simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat.

In a frying pan or heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat,

warm the 1/4 cup of olive oil and then add the onion. Sauté for 2

minutes, until the onion is just translucent but not brown.

 

Add the flour and stir to get rid of any lumps and form a loose

paste. It will bubble up a little—that’s OK. Gently pour the warmed

milk mixture into the paste a little at a time, stirring constantly to

prevent any lumps from forming and allowing the sauce to begin to

thicken.

 

Turn down the heat to low...

 

..and continue to stir for 2–3 minutes, until the sauce is fully

combined. Add the mozzarella cheese and remove the pan from the

heat. Stir everything for 30 seconds to ensure the cheese is fully

incorporated. The heat from the sauce will melt the cheese.

 

In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil, the

Panko, garlic, parsley, and thyme until a coarse crumbly mixture has

formed.

 

Pour the cheese sauce over the eggplant in an even layer, scraping the

pot clean. Sprinkle the Manchego cheese evenly over the top of the

sauce then sprinkle it with the Panko mixture.

 

Bake for 25–30 minutes, until the eggplant is tender and the cheese

is bubbling. If necessary, turn the broiler on to brown the top of the

dish for 2–3 minutes before removing from the oven and serving.

 

This dish doesn’t keep well and is best consumed the day it’s made.

Serve alongside grilled steaks with garlic aioli (page 115) or beans

and rice (page 71), or braised chicken (page 103) for a delicious

warm meal.

 

For more of Emily's recipes from Spain click HERE

 

 

 

 


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