While we were in Greece, staying in a magnificent house in Paros, a local cook Dimitris made some delicious dishes for us. One that was a hit was this baked eggplant, which I was keen to try myself when we returned home. The challenge is sourcing the same ingredients. I noticed Dimitris always used red onions for example – but the red onions there were much sweeter and more delicate than those we get in Australia. So for this dish I opted for some French eschallots, which were probably the closest thing. It also looked like he had used a different variety of eggplant – here we either get tiny Lebanese eggplants (which are too small for this recipe) or massive “standard” ones. Today I found some standard eggplants but of a petite size at an Italian grocer, and as soon as I saw them I knew they were perfect for this dish. There is a lot of oil so it is not a dish you’d have every day, but gosh it was delicious, and bought back memories of a wonderful holiday. We had some left over and heated them up the next day, I think they were even better. You could also do these Italian style with ricotta on top and sprinkle with fresh basil.
6 small eggplants
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup continental parsley, finely chopped
180g haloumi, sliced into 12 slices
Olive oil for frying
Salt for seasoning
For the sauce
4 eschallots, finely sliced lengthways
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon raw sugar
1 can peeled tomatoes, pureed
2 tbsp olive oil
1. For the sauce, place the olive oil and eschallots in small pot and saute on medium heat until softened. Add the tomatoes, 1 cup water, salt, sugar, allow it to come to a bubble then simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes. Set aside
2. Cut each of the eggplants in half longways, then score in a criss cross fashion. Take a large heavy based frypan (mine could fit 6 halves), add olive oil such that the base of the frypan is generously covered. Place the eggplants flesh side down and cook on low to medium heat till golden, then turn and cook on skin side until softened but not collapsing. Drain on paper towels.
3. Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Place the eggplant in an oven dish, season with salt, then sprinkle the parmesan on top. Spoon some sauce onto each of the eggplants and bake for about 20 minutes
4. Remove from oven, place one slice of haloumi on each eggplant, then return to the oven and bake for a further 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle over chopped parsley and serve.