These tasty baked globe eggplants or aubergines are delicious enough to be the hero and stand alone served with a salad, or will still hold their own as a part of larger banquet. This is such a delicious way to cook and serve eggplant. The peak season for growing eggplant in Queensland is from December to April, so they are still at their best right now. I was gifted these eggplant by our good friends who have a very sunny garden which really suits the growing of eggplant, so whilst the vegetables were still only a couple of days old, I needed to cook them. They need to be really fresh for this kind of recipe where they are baked and aren't cooked in a sauce. However being organic and home grown, they weren't as large or as consistent in size as those at the supermarkets. At the supermarkets they would be called the Odd Bunch, however I think they are the Perfect Bunch.
I ate two of these for dinner, and Mr. HRK who can generally take or leave eggplant ate one and really enjoyed it. There is still a variety of opinion as to whether or not eggplant needs to be salted before cooking to remove the natural bitterness. Because these were so fresh I didn't salt them and I rarely do these days, and there was no bitterness at all.
Preparation and cooking time 40 minutes
2 medium (600 g) eggplants
1/2 cup (125 ml) extra virgin olive oil
4 (20 g) anchovies
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup (75 g) coarse sourdough breadcrumbs
1/3 cup parmesan or pecorino cheese, finely grated
2 tablespoons each of mint and parsley, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 240 deg. C (220 deg. C) fan forced
With a small sharp knife, cut the eggplants in half lengthways, leaving the stalk in tact. Then remove the eggplant flesh carefully, so as not to pierce the skin of the eggplant.
Place the eggplant skins and the flesh on a baking tray that has been lined with baking paper.
Measure out 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and drizzle this over the eggplant. I also used a pastry brush to distribute the oil evenly over the eggplant shells and the flesh.
Season with freshly ground black pepper and salt and bake for 15 minutes. The skins should be crispy and the flesh tender. If the eggplants are very fresh, and hopefully they are, this might take longer than the recommended 15 minutes.
Select a small frying pan, add the remaining olive oil, and over a low heat gently cook the anchovy fillets and the garlic. This should only take a minute for the anchovy fillets to break down and the garlic to soften. You will also smell the heady aroma of the garlic and the anchovies cooking.
Add the breadcrumbs and cook for 2 minutes until they are lightly toasted in the pan.
|This is tasty enough to eat on it's own like this.|
|I used some extra mint because I love it.|
Spoon the eggplant mixture into the eggplant skins. Top with finely grated parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil, and place the eggplants back in the oven for 10 minutes until golden.
When cooked, remove from the oven, place tray on a cooling rack and rest the eggplants for 5 minutes.
Before serving, add the remaining mint and the parsley to serve. I also added a few basil leaves because I grow them.
- This dish isn't suitable to freeze
- Small cubes of sourdough bread instead of breadcrumbs, might be an easier way to incorporate the sourdough, and works really well. One thick slice of sourdough bread cut into small squares works well, or use breadcrumbs.
- If you really enjoy the flavour of anchovies, add another few to this recipe.
- If your eggplant are over a few days old, draw out the natural bitterness by sprinkling them with salt and stand for 30 minutes. Rinse off the salt before you cook them. Because the ones I used were so fresh, I didn't salt them.