All of you are going to say “Duh!” when you hear about my evening yesterday. I mean, who’s stupid enough to turn on the oven when it’s 90 degrees and with 90% humidity outside? And even if they do, surely they wouldn’t think to crank it up high for over three hours. Well, okay, fine, if they’re going to do that, at least they retreated from the kitchen for the whole time, right? They didn’t?!?! Wait a minute! There was a fan in there at least, wasn’t there? NO?!?! Geezsh, you’re stupid, Jennie.
Well, my ambition got the best of me. I’d had a stressful day at the office and after D serenaded me with a song about our OCD cat, Zeppo, who loves to drink water out of the bathtub facet, I thought I’d best get to work on a new post and also make some chocolate beet cupcakes for the PUFN Happy Hour at the farm tonight. I’m one of those “I can’t sit down until I’ve checked every item off my to-do list, even if it means I pass out from exhaustion just before the last spoon is fished out of the bottom of the dishwater” kinda gals.
I was thinking roasting and stuffing eggplant would be a simple enough recipe to do while I cranked out the cupcakes. I was heating up the oven anyway, so why not? Why not indeed…because the eggplant too longer than I expected and the kitchen temperature topped out at 99.8!!! (Before you question the validity of that number, I have one of those indoor-outdoor thermometer thingys so I know it really was 99.8.) I was sweating like a marathon runner. And while both the eggplant and the cupcakes turned out as desired, I was too pooped to bother eating either of them by the end.
All I could manage was to drag my dripping wet self up the stairs to the blessed air conditioning of the bedroom and flop down to finish a chapter of my book before falling asleep. Which reminds me…if you’re enjoying this blog’s farm and freshness theme, you should read Stronger Than Dirt, a candid and clever retelling of a Brooklyn couple’s efforts to start a farm.
One final thought before I get to the recipe: if you made or are making the herb-infused oil I posted last time, this eggplant is a grand opportunity to start using it. Otherwise, just use some fresh herbs and regular olive oil to replace the herb oil indicated.
Oh, and one more thing… I have to thank my coworker Carol for the idea of scouring and stuffing the eggplant with garlic before roasting. That little trick did wonders for the final outcome.
Okay, that’s all. Now for the recipe.
ROASTED STUFFED EGGPLANT
3 medium-to-large eggplants
5 T. herb-infused oil (see paragraph above if you don’t have any)
4 or 5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
3/4 c. uncooked tri-color (or regular) couscous
3/4 c. water
1 T. butter
1 large fresh tomato
1 T. lemon juice (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 F. Wash and dry eggplants. Trim off stems and halve lengthwise. Scour eggplant flesh with a sharp knife, being careful not to cut the skin. Insert slivers of garlic into the cuts in the eggplant, evenly distributing six or more garlic slices in each eggplant half.
Place eggplant onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle herb-infused oil evenly over the eggplant and spread it to coat the entire top of each half before sprinkling on salt and pepper to taste. Place baking sheet in oven.
Check eggplant after 45 minutes to see if it is soft and browned. If not yet soft, check back at 15 minute intervals until no “spring” is left in the flesh when you press on it. The time it takes to reach this point varies according to how fresh and firm the eggplant was to begin with so it might take up to 1.5 hours altogether.
While eggplant is roasting, bring water, a pinch of salt and butter to boil. Remove from heat and stir in the couscous. Cover and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and set aside. Dice tomato, place in medium bowl and set aside.
When eggplant is soft, remove from oven and let cool for a minute or two so you don’t burn yourself when handling it. Carefully scoop out the softened flesh, keeping the outer edges and skin intact. Add scooped flesh to tomatoes and stir in the lemon juice. Add the couscous to the mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Stuff eggplant shells with the couscous mixture and serve immediately.
(makes 6 side dish servings)