Up until about a month or two ago, if you asked me what I thought about eggplant, my answer would not have been a positive one. I would have said something about it being bitter and having the texture of snot. I was not a fan. But I've come around recently, thanks in part to recipes like this one, which features a variety of eggplant types prepared in a couple different ways. For those out there who have a disdain for eggplant, give this recipe a try. Hopefully it will change your mind, as it did mine.
Roasted Lamb Loin
Leaves from 2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
Leaves from 4 sprigs oregano, chopped
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 four-bone rack of lamb, frenched and trimmed of excess fat
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Score the fat of the lamb with a sharp knife in a cross-hatch pattern, each cut being about ½-inch apart. Rub the lamb with the herb mixture. Let sit at least 4 hours, preferably overnight in the refrigerator. Scrape the excess herb mixture from the lamb and bring to room temperature before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Heat some canola oil over medium heat in a open proof skillet (not non-stick) and sear the lamb, fat side down, for about 4 minutes, until golden brown. Flip the lamb, insert a meat thermometer, and roast the lamb until it reaches 125 to 130 degrees for medium rare to medium. Let rest at least 10 minutes before carving.
The caponata comes courtesy of Michael Chiarello's Bottega, and is a fantastic way to use extra eggplant, as it is preserved with vinegar and sugar. It freezes well, reheats easily and has a variety of uses. In addition to this recipe, I used it as a topping for bruschetta and as a sandwich condiment (roasted turkey breast panini with caponata, mozzarella and prosciutto). After receiving about a dozen baby eggplant from Farmhouse Delivery, I made a double batch of the caponata and froze half.
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely diced unpeeled eggplant
½ cup finely diced unpeeled Yukon gold potato
1 cup finely diced peeled carrots
1 cup finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 teaspoons orange zest
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons finely shredded fresh basil
Heat 3 skillets over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of oil to one pan and 2 tablespoons each to the other two. Add the eggplant to the skillet with the 3 tablespoons of oil, the potato to another, and the carrot and red onion to the final skillet. Season everything with salt and pepper and saute until everything is completely soft - about 6 minutes for the eggplant, 11 for the potato and 14 for the carrots and onion. Combine everything into one skillet, add the orange zest, raisins and pine nuts and cook for another 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add the vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce for about 4 minutes, until syrupy. Add to the vegetables along with the basil and taste for seasoning.
3 baby or japanese eggplant, cut into ½-inch rounds (mine looked something like this)
1 Italian eggplant, sliced in half lengthwise
Extra-virgin olive oil
½ sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
2 to 3 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves removed chopped
Preheat a grill to medium-high. Rub all the eggplant with olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, rosemary and oregano. Grill the baby eggplant rounds for about 3 minutes per side, until tender. Set aside. Grill the Italian eggplant about 6 minutes per side, until tender.
Cooked Italian eggplant, as described above
Juice of 1 orange
About ⅓ cup olive oil
Once the eggplant is cool enough to handle, remove the flesh and discard the skin. Add the eggplant to a blender along with the remaining ingredients and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
1 Jalapeno, sliced very thinly, seeds removed
A few leaves of butter lettuce, torn
I removed the loin from the bone before plating, but by all means, feel free to leave the bone in. Place a large dollop of the eggplant puree on the plate and set the lamb on top of it, along with a couple of the grilled baby eggplant rounds. Top with a couple spoonfuls of the caponata. Scatter a few jalapeno slices and butter lettuce pieces around the plate. Sprinkle with some orange zest and Maldon salt. Enjoy.