Summer Eggplant Rounds
This is a simple and lovely way to use up summer veggies and to really test out creative combinations. Earlier in the summer you can add zucchini rounds or large summer squash rounds in on top of the eggplant and make the stacks as tall as you like, or substitute them in place of the eggplant. Roasted chunks of garlic or red onion would be delicious adorning the tops of the stacks as well. These will take about 2 hours from start to finish, but only about 3o or 40 minutes of that is actually hands-on time, so start them early in the evening, and prepare your other dishes during the long periods of waiting. Eat up!
Summer Eggplant Rounds
2 large Italian eggplant sliced into 3/4″ thick rounds, salted, drained, and patted dry.
4 bell peppers
2-3 hot peppers (I used serranos)
several fresh basil leaves
several fresh oregano leaves (experiment with other herbs!)
1/2 c ricotta cheese, thinned to a creamy state with a tiny bit of yogurt (can substitute cream cheese, cherve, or crème fraîche. Play around with it!)
plenty of olive oil throughout preparation
salt and cracked pepper to taste
- Unless your eggplants are very, very fresh (like, 1 day or less off the plant) you’ll want to salt and drain them to remove bitterness. Slice them into 3/4″ rounds and sprinkle very generously with salt. Allow them to drain in a large colander for at least 30 minutes and for up to 3 hours. Pat them dry with paper towels when ready to cook. While the eggplant are draining, heat your oven to 450 and begin prepping the other veggies for roasting.
- Halve the bell peppers and quarter the tomatoes. Leave the insides intact and drizzle with olive oil, and lightly toss to coat. Tuck in the hot peppers and leaves of oregano and roast in a hot oven for about an hour.
- Once the eggplant have drained to your liking, heat a small amount of olive oil until nearly smoking in the largest heavy skillet you have (a big cast iron is perfect for this). Place eggplant in the skillet to fill it in one single layer. Brown one side of the rounds, then flip, add a little more olive oil, and brown the second side. Repeat in batches until all the eggplant are browned.
- Assemble the stacks. I did mine like this: 1 Eggplant round>a dollop of ricotta>1 basil leaf>a roasted tomato>roasted bell pepper. For lots of added heat, pierce open the roasted serrano peppers and drip the juice atop the stacks. MMM! Top with a sprinkling of salt and a cracking of fresh black pepper. Serve.