Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Baked Eggplant with Tomato Mint Sauce & Feta, over Grilled Polenta

Yesterday I decided to try out a new eggplant recipe, in keeping with my resolution to try to observe Meatless Mondays.  It came out very good - similar to an appetizer available on many restaurant menus, but a little different with the mint & feta.
The original recipe called for goat cheese, which Corey absolutely hates.  I used feta instead, which isn't as creamy as goat cheese, but it still tasted delicious.   Usually this type of dish comes with parmesan, but I thought the feta was great, especially with the mint in the sauce.  Simmering the sauce for a little while before assembling the dish made it thicker and gave it a wonderfully rich oven-roasted taste.
I served it over grilled polenta.  Recently I bought a tube of polenta for the first time.  I've always made my own polenta before, but I thought it would come in handy at some point.  It was so easy, all you have to do is slice it and grill it.
Have a look-

When I want to make an eggplant dish, I always look for eggplants that are small and without any bruises.  If this is not possible, I usually just make something else altogether.  Larger eggplants can be bitter tasting, which can be remedied by salting, but to me the smaller ones always taste better.

Nonstick canola oil spray
2 1lb eggplants, trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch-thick crosswise rounds
1 1/2T olive oil
1/2C chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 28oz can Italian-style diced tomatoes
3T chopped fresh mint
1/2t dried oregano
1/2C crumbled feta
8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Polenta tube

1. Preheat oven to 500°F.
2. Spray 2 large baking sheets with oil spray.
3. Arrange eggplant rounds on prepared sheets, brush lightly with 1T oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Bake until tender and golden on both sides (about 10 minutes per side). Remove from oven.
5. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
6. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1/2T oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.
7. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
8. Add garlic and stir 1 minute.
9. Add tomatoes with their juices, mint and oregano and simmer until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.
10. Season with salt and pepper if needed.  (I didn't add any salt to mine, the canned tomatoes already contained plenty of salt.)
11. Spoon half of tomato sauce into shallow 2-quart baking dish.
12. Arrange eggplant rounds atop sauce, overlapping so that all will fit in the dish.
13. Spoon remaining sauce over.
14. Sprinkle cheese over.
15. Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes.

While the eggplant is baking, prepare the polenta.
1. Heat a nonstick grill pan over medium high heat.
2. Slice the polenta 1/2 inch thick, as many slices as you need.
3. Add the polenta slices to the hot pan, and cook until golden brown.
4. Flip the polenta and cook until golden brown on the other side.

Place a few slices of polenta on each plate, top with the eggplant and sauce, and sprinkle with basil.

Recipe adapted from epicurious.com

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