honey baked eggplant
Last Saturday, we hosted around a dozen new friends at the studio for a workshop that was all about publishing food stories. We spent the day discussing different perspectives on publishing from conception to blogs to books and magazines, from a variety of experts and cookbook authors. The conversation was informative, candid, but most importantly, inspiring and fun. It was our hope that everyone who was at the studio that day left feeling their creative energy completely recharged. I know that we certainly did.
Of course there was food. Lots of it. For lunch, we feasted on cauliflower with romesco, roasted brussels sprouts with a ginger scallion sauce, mushroom toasts, and this honey baked eggplant dish (which everyone kept calling eggplant lasagna, which is probably because it was reminiscent of lasagna/eggplant parmesan with layers of thinly sliced eggplant, red sauce, and cheese). We also made a vegan / dairy-free version by using a dairy-free cashew yogurt in lieu of the cheese, and that version was a big hit as well. So many people asked for the recipes so we decided it would be a great first recipe for our studio blog, where we hope to share many of the recipes we create in the studio for events or just for ourselves. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you will never miss a recipe. Enjoy!
Honey baked eggplant
This dish is inspired by a popular Catalan tapas dish, crispy fried eggplant with honey. A rich and big-flavored vegetarian dish, the silky, slightly sweet eggplant and the soufflé-like ricotta mixture provide a lightness that is hard to resist. If you can’t find manchego, substitute with parmesan cheese, but use less, about 1 cup should be fine.
5-6 tbsp runny honey
1 cup (250ml) olive oil
juice ½ lemon
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground coriander
4 medium, sliced lengthways into ½ cm (1/5 inch) thick
2 cups (500g) fresh whole milk ricotta
3 eggs, beaten
½ cup (125ml) heavy cream
2 cups (226g) grated manchego cheese
sea salt and black pepper
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cups (750g or about 2 large cans) chopped tomatoes
handful of fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, oreganao), roughly chopped
2 tsp sugar
Preheat oven to 375˚F (190˚C).
To make the tomato sauce, place all the ingredients in a large pan, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and turn down to simmer for 30-35 minutes, until thick and richly flavored. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the honey, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and coriander. Season well with sea salt and black pepper. Oil a large baking tray. Dip each piece of eggplant into the honey mixture, and place them onto the oiled baking tray. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until soft and golden.
Place the ricotta, eggs, heavy cream into a medium bowl, and whisk to combine. Add the manchego cheese and mix well. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
In a large gratin, place one layer of eggplant, followed by a layer of tomorrow and then the cheese. Repeat, alternating the layers, until all the eggplant has been used. You should finish with a layer of cheese. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the surface is golden and looks soufflé-like. Serve with a green salad, and some bread to mop up the sauce!