Another Summer Eggplant Dish to Swoon Over

Summer may be the season of eggplant but this sweet, unctuous dish hailing from Sardinia would also be appropriate to autumn's richer menus. We love it so much in fact we're considering adding it to Cafe Drake HRV's Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners! Only a couple of adjustments were made to the original recipe appearing in Joyce Goldstein's absolutely brilliant cookbook Italian: Slow and Savory. We added sun-dried tomatoes and fresh thyme because we had them close by and they work! To begin, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and oil a baking sheet or shallow casserole. Cut 1 large regular eggplant in half lengthwise and with a sharp knife, score a deep diamond pattern in the flesh of the eggplant, cut side up. Once you've made the cuts, pry the seams open a bit but be careful to not tear all the way through. Place on prepared casserole dish.

Combine in a mini -processor, and make a paste from . . . 4 cloves of chopped garlic, 3 T. chopped basil, a few fresh thyme leaves, 1/4 cup rinsed and chopped capers, 2-3 T. chopped cherry tomatoes, a large pinch of dried red pepper flakes and 3 chopped sun-dried tomatoes (pre-soaked if dried and not in oil). Once you've got a paste, season with salt and black pepper.

Spread the paste thickly over the cut eggplant, pushing down into the crevices (from your scoring). Sprinkle with 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs (unseasoned, please) and drizzle all with olive oil. Now bake for 1 hour or until the eggplant is soft, almost melting.

Remove the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting into individual servings. One large eggplant will create 4-6 servings as a side dish or part of an antipasto platter. The eggplant is equally satisfying at room temperature making it an ideal candidate for all those October picnics we know you've already planned.


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