Hi friends, I have been MIA as I was finishing a draft of my novel, and now it is in the hands of readers so I have a second to breath and think about food of course. We are less than two weeks away from school ending, and I can’t wait for summer get togethers! We just had our first pool party and we were all so filled up the next day, it reminded me why I love summer. And parties. 🙂
I’m always searching for very simple recipes to make either for parties or up at the lake. I am usually toweling off kids and making burgers and sipping something cold with friends, so very fussy recipes detract from the easy breezy feeling of get togethers.
When I was dreaming about get togethers and trying to find new recipes, I turned to one of my favorite get-together cookbooks, ‘See You on Sunday’ by Sam Sifton. I was drawn to this recipes for Fairy Tale Eggplant with Goat Cheese and Mint because it only has a few ingredients, they are super easy to prepare (split in half, add salt and olive oil and roast). It also uses one of those ubiquitous summer vegetables, eggplant.
I went ahead and experimented with eggplant that are a bit weathered as I bought them a while ago, and turns out they are still delicious and you don’t even see the skin. You’re welcome.
Though the recipe calls for Fairy Tale Eggplant, the lovely variety that is purple and white and are just the right size to make this dish finger food, you can use any eggplant. It made me think that slicing them into disks and topping with goat cheese (or feta) would be a fun party food too.
These are definitely a winner! They are so good and I love how goat cheese puffs up and becomes a different texture when it is baked. And the texture of eggplant turns into something amazing when it is roasted. Like a silky, buttery pillow.
The simple notes of mint and za’atar seasoning make this dish so satisfying and different. I think feta and other herbs would be good too, as would Herbes de Provence. Last summer I was on a big kick of roasting summer squash with feta and Herbes do Provence which is probably why I am thinking about them…
(Also, anyone else love having mint growing in their herb garden?)
If you need more ideas for great summer sides, here is a post I did last year and here is a post I did a while ago. And last summer’s favorite veggie side also came from Sam Sifton, here is Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Caper Sauce, a huge hit and much like these eggplant, so easy to roast while I’m out hanging by the grill.
Fairy Tale Eggplants with Goat Cheese and Mint
2 pounds Fairy Tale eggplants, trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
½ cup of olive oil
½ pound goat cheese (8 oz.)
¼ cup freshly torn mint leaves
1-2 large pinches of za’atar (optional)
Heat oven to 425. Put the eggplants onto one or two large rimmed baking sheets and sprinkle with the salt, then drizzle half of the oil over them. Toss to coat and arrange the eggplants, cut side up.
Dot the eggplants evenly with the goat cheese and then drizzle the remaining oil over the dish.
Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the eggplants are soft and caramelizing and the cheese is browned in spots. Top with the mint and if using the za’atar.