When Michael goes on travel I find myself craving comfort food. I’m sure the phenomenon is related to my energy levels, which take a dip during the weeks he is gone and are in direct correlation to the high energy my boys possess. Top that off with being awake way into the night trying to take care of all the chores that don’t get done during the day, and I start each morning with a sleep deficit and a craving for foods that taste good and give me a warm, fuzzy feeling on the inside.
Last week while he was on his latest trip, I found myself craving roasted eggplant, so I pulled out a comfort food recipe. This is another one of those dishes that doesn’t look like much when you prepare it, but the good, simple ingredients promise something more. The garlic slivers roast right along with the eggplant and infuse it with flavor, and the texture is smooth and creamy. Preparation is pretty easy and you can even do it in stages if you need to. You can roast the eggplant and process it the night before, keep it in the refrigerator overnight, warm it the next day while sauteing the mushrooms, then assemble and bake just before serving.
ROASTED EGGPLANT WITH GRUYERE
Adapted from The New Basics Cookbook, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.
Serves 4 to 6.
1-quart baking dish (about the size of a deep dish pie pan)
2 medium to large eggplants, scrubbed clean
2 cloves garlic, peeled and slivered
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (You could probably use olive oil for sauteing the mushrooms, but I never have.)
3/4 cup (75 g) grated Gruyere cheese, plus extra for grating on top
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sour cream or creme fraiche
8 ounces (227 g) mushrooms, thinly sliced
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375° F/190° C.
2. Use the point of a sharp knife to cut small slits in the eggplants. Wiggle the knife sideways to open each slit just wide enough to insert a sliver of garlic. Wrap the eggplants in foil and place in the roasting pan. Roast until soft, about 90 minutes. Remove them from the oven and allow to cool. Keep the oven on.
3. Remove the foil and cut the eggplants in half from stem to bottom. Place in a colander over the roasting pan and drain any of the bitter liquid.
4. Scoop out the pulp and the garlic slivers and put them into the bowl of the food processor. Cube 1 tablespoon of the butter and add it to the bowl. Process until smooth. Transfer the mixture into the large bowl and stir in the Gruyere, beaten egg, and the sour cream. Set aside.
5. In the large skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter (or olive oil) over medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until they soften and brown, about 5 minutes. Fold into the eggplant mixture and add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Spread the mixture into the baking pan or pie pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon or a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Serve immediately with a little extra Gruyere grated on top of each serving.