I’m always looking for appetizers that are vegetable-based, so when I whipped up this eggplant appetizer, I was hooked. I found these little fairytale eggplants at the Union Square farmers market and couldn’t resist their petite stature.
Eggplant is a funny vegetable. Its rich jewel tone color pairs so gorgeously with other foods, making for a lovely presentation. But it can so easily go wrong — an innocent vegetable becomes a sponge for oil and a once very low calorie food is laden with lots of calories and fat. But that’s not to say you can’t use any oil when cooking eggplant. That would result in a horribly dry and tasteless concoction. My solution is simple — a little oil, a lot of big flavors.
1 pound fairytale eggplants, washed and dried
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided in half + more for skillet
1/3 cup feta cheese
1 head of garlic, roasted until golden brown (here’s my recipe for roasted garlic)
1 lemon, juiced
Salt to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400, place cast iron skillet in oven to preheat
2. Halve each eggplant and toss with salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil
3. When oven comes to temperature, remove cast iron skillet
4. Place eggplants, cut side down, in one layer in the skillet – make sure each eggplant has contact with the hot pan to make sure you get good color; if they are to crowded they will steam and get mushy
5. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until the eggplants are golden brown and tender when a knife is inserted into the thickest part
6. While the eggplants are roasting, combine feta with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, roasted garlic and lemon juice; place in a ramekin on the side for dipping
7. Serve immediately with an extra sprinkling of kosher salt over the eggplants
I chose to serve these little beauties on a small square white plate, the feta in a blue ramekin and with small gold forks so that it wasn’t as messy. Certainly a small butter knife would work just fine, but I wanted to give everyone their own utensil. Keeping the stems on the eggplants not only adds interest, but it also makes them easier to eat!
How do you like to prepare eggplant? Have you ever spiced up feta or other cheese? Please let me know in the comments, I love to hear from you!