My father loved to cook. This recipe is a simple dish my father made. It’s easy to prepare and so delicious. Fresh herbs, garlic, and cheese really make this eggplant dish flavorful.
When buying eggplants, choose eggplants that are firm, shiny, and blemish-free. I recommend using the Italian or Globe variety for this recipe. They have a firm flesh that withstands roasting. There are other types of eggplants you can also use but I don’t recommend using soft-flesh varieties such as Japanese or Chinese.
This recipe calls for Ricotta Salta, a semi-soft cheese made with sheep’s milk that originated in Sicily. The cheese is made by compressing ricotta curds that have been salted and aged for a few months. Good quality Ricotta Salata is hard to come by. It should have a creamy texture and a mild nutty flavor. Unfortunately, most of the Ricotta Salata I’ve purchased in grocery stores is bone dry and has a sawdust-like texture. Your best bet is buying it from an Italian or gourmet food market. Greek Manouri, which is a similar cheese also made from sheep’s milk, is an excellent substitute for Ricotta Salata.
Roasted Eggplant with Garlic, Cheese, and Herbs
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes 4 servings.
2 medium Italian eggplants (2-2 1/2 pounds), washed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons Ricotta Salata or Manouri cheese
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
PREPARE THE EGGPLANT: Cut off the stem ends of the eggplants and discard. Cut into 1 1/4-inch thick cubes.
Place eggplant in a colander placed over a bowl, and sprinkle with 1 ½ teaspoons of salt. Toss the eggplant to evenly distribute the salt and let stand for 30 to 40 minutes. Rinse the eggplant and pat dry with paper towels.
ROAST THE EGGPLANT: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Place the eggplant in a bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of oil. Spread the eggplant out evenly of a baking sheet, spacing them apart. Bake for 15 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the eggplant and roast to 15 to 20 to minutes longer until browned.
SEASON THE EGGPLANT: Remove the eggplant and place in a medium bowl.
Toss gently with remaining oil, parsley, basil, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place eggplant on a serving dish and sprinkle the Pecorino and Ricotta Salata cheese on top.