Normally this time of year we have a bumper crop of everything from the garden. Not so much this year. A lot of Indiana is in an exceptional drought. That's the worst type. Until the last week or so rainshowers had pretty much hit all around us but very few had actually hit our home. Our herbs have mostly gone to seed and the vegetables (with the exception of peppers and cucumbers) just haven't grown. Finally, we went out to the garden and got enough for dinner! Well, at least for the salad course!
I remember the year we had an absolute bumper crop of eggplant. I made all kinds of new and fun dishes. This year, we've had two eggplants from eight plants. The first was almost decent sized. The second as about the size of Connie's fist.
The Southwestern Grill by Michael McLaughlin had recently joined my collection of cookbooks. There was an eggplant dip that I really wanted to try. But, I couldn't find the cookbook. All over the kitchen and family room I searched. Not to be found. Ah, ha moment. I'd taken it to bed to read. Yup. It was sitting on the floor next to the bed. Whew.
What did we think? This was incredibly easy to make. And, we totally loved the flavor. The recipe calls for using the dip with corn chips. I can see it being used mixed in with mashed potatoes. Or a good dollop on top of a lovely southwestern rubbed pork tenderloin.
Now, for the second, little eggplant, I got creative on my own. We had a couple of burrata that we needed to use up. I'd never seen them in Indy and had found them at Trader Joe's. One of my favorite eggplant salad combos is fried eggplant and tomatoes with shredded mozzarella. What if I replaced the shredded mozzarella with the burrata and added some good homemade pesto? Well, let me tell you, that worked. I wish I had another eggplant in the garden and I'd be making that again NOW.
Grilled Eggplant Dip wtih Sweet and Smoky Flavors
3 T pine nuts, toasted and set aside
2 - 1/1/2 lb eggplants, trimmed and cut into 1/2" slices (do not peel)
3 T olive oil (divided)
chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
3 T balsamic vinegar
3 T minced canned chipotle chilies en adobo
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t salt
1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
Toss the eggplant with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. You can either grill the slices or roast them. The eggplant should be very well done.
Coarsely chop the eggplant and put it in the bowl of the food processor with all the othe ingredients other than the pine nuts and cilantro. Pulse a few times making sure the mixture is still a bit coarse. Top with the pine nuts and cilantro. (Obviously from the photos I skipped both.) Serve at room temperature with corn chips.
adapted from Southwestern Grill
Eggplant and Burrata Salad
One small eggplant, sliced into four slices
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c panko
1/2 c finely grated gruyere, parmesan or romano
1 large tomato, sliced into 1/2" slices
1/4 c freshly made pesto
Don't peel the eggplant. Dip the slices into the egg then into a mixture of the panko and cheese. Fry in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until the eggplant is brown and crunchy. Remove from the heat and put on two salad plates. Nest the slices.
Top with tomato slices. Depending on the size of the tomato, you'll need either one or two per salad.
Top the tomatoes with a burrata. Drizzle pesto over.