Sunday, August 18, 2013

In Season: Eggplant - Herb Marinated Eggplant Antipasto

My Vegetable obsession of the moment?

The Eggplant.

Ghost and Zebra Eggplant Varieties, Photo: NK 

I can't get enough of these guys, and with varieties as beautiful as this, who can blame me? The even better news is that Eggplants are in season now through early fall and ready to be loved. 

Fresh Oregano and Thyme, Photo: NK 
I already shared a Marinated Eggplant appetizer very early this summer, but I didn't see the harm in attempting another version, especially because I also happened to have a fierce craving for it! There's just something sublime about thin slices of roasted and then marinated Eggplant on a piece of pleasantly crusty bread. I don't know about you, but I call that the perfect snack. 

Today's Marinated Eggplant is a bit milder than our bold, lemony, and spicy version HERE. Additionally, Marinated Eggplant is a great vehicle for fresh herbs (which I happen to have growing like wildfire in my garden). Using White Balsamic Vinegar adds a mild yet sweet tang to this super simple starter. Make this in advance and store for several days in the fridge. The mixture even gets better with time, and you can be ready with an elegant snack at a moment's notice. 

Also - If you use the basic Eggplant baking method below, you can certainly adapt your marinade to your tastes and do plenty of experimenting with whatever ingredients you have on hand. 

Shall we?

Marinated Eggplant with Fresh Herbs and White Balsamic
Serves about 6 as a hors d'oeuvre or snack

2 Medium Eggplants - a single variety or mix (we used one Ghost and one Zebra Eggplant)
The leaves from 4 Sprigs Fresh Oregano, finely minced
The leaves from 4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme, finely minced 
2 Large Cloves Garlic, crushed
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus more for sprinkling 
2 Tablespoons White Balsamic Vinegar 
1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt plus more for sprinkling Eggplant before baking
Black Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 and set aside two large baking sheets.

2. Cut each Eggplant down the middle lengthwise and cut each half horizontally to form half moons. 

3. Lay Eggplant slices on the baking sheets and drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Sprinkle with Kosher Salt and an Black Pepper. Once oven has come to temperature place baking sheets in for 15-17 minutes until the eggplant is tender. If it looks dry, don't worry as the marinade will take care of that. 

4. While Eggplant is baking, warm 2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a small pan over medium-low heat. Add the two Cloves of crushed Garlic and cook until they begin to become slightly golden, about 3 minutes. Turn off the flame and allow the oil to cool a few minutes before adding the minced Oregano and Thyme. Add the 2 Tablespoons of White Balsamic Vinegar to the pan and set aside.

5. When Eggplant is finished baking, scrape the slices carefully into a large bowl. Pour the contents of the pan into it and toss gently so slices are fully coated. Allow to cook and then store refrigerated up to 4 days. Serve over crusty bread! Enjoy!

Marinated Eggplant Crostini, Photo: NK 

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