roasted eggplant and vidalia onion bruschetta

They go by many names – crostini, tartine, bruschetta.  All have specific, unique definitions and origins.  However, via the melting pot of American cuisine, all have come to mean (at least to most of us) a slice of toasted bread topped with some sort of spread and/or accoutrements, served open faced as an appetizer.  There’s no end to the combination possibilities – a fact that we take advantage of on a regular basis.

On those weekend nights we decide to shut ourselves in the house with a movie and Brix curled up in our laps, I love to explore some of those possibilities and make a crostini/tartine/bruschetta/what-have-you flight.  One baguette, sliced thin and toasted, usually yields two to three different types of bruschetta (had to pick one, didn’t I?) which we happily munch on while the movie plays.  And while I do love the tomato/basil/mozzarella “standard,” sometimes I want to veer off the beaten path.  Enter eggplant.

“Eggplant?” you say.  “That’s nothing new.  Haven’t you ever heard of caponata?” 

Ah, yes, we’ve been there, done that.  You see, I fell for eggplant last summer.  It was the veggie of choice at the Farmer’s Market, so much so in fact that I’ve planted a baby variety this year in my garden and with the warming (i.e. hot) temperatures of late, it is plugging along, putting out new leaves and increasing in size.  *I think I can, I think I can!*  But alas, with no fresh tomatoes yet and basil the size of my pinkie nail at the moment (ok, so maybe it is a little bigger than my pinkie nail), caponata wasn’t in the cards.

Lucky for us, sweet Vidalia onions are in season once again.  As a kid, I always knew summer vacation was nearing when the 10-pound bag of Vidalias arrived from my dad’s colleague in Vidalia, Georgia.  We got onions, he got bratwurst.  Back then, I thought it was a good trade.  Now I would be happy to have both.  There’s nothing quite like a slow-roasted Vidalia.  The already sweet onion becomes even sweeter as the onion melts into tender layers, perfect for serving with a grilled steak (sorry, I’m drooling here) or as in this case, with equally tender roasted eggplant.

Something magical happens to these two when they hit the oven.  Cubes of onion and eggplant get tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, and begin to brown and soften into an amazingly savory combination.  A bright kick from tangy goat cheese infused with fresh thyme sends it soaring.  Maybe this is just the inspiration you needed to stay in this weekend.

 

roasted eggplant and vidalia onion bruschetta

recipe:  jb’s pour house

 

1 medium eggplant, sliced into ½” rounds

1 large Vidalia onion, roughly chopped into ½” dice

¼ to ⅓ c. extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

4 oz. fresh goat cheese

1 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme

1 baguette, thinly sliced and toasted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Place a large colander in a sink.  Place eggplant slices around edges and bottom of colander in a single layer, ensuring that no slices overlap.  Sprinkle generously with salt.  Repeat with remaining eggplant slices, layering and salting, until all eggplant is in colander.  Let set for 20 minutes.  Rinse with cool water and pat dry.  This process helps to draw out the bitterness that can be found in eggplant and helps to tenderize it. 

Dice eggplant into ½” pieces.  Combine eggplant, onion, olive oil, ¾ tsp. salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.  Add more olive oil as needed to ensure all vegetables are evenly coated.  Spread across a large baking sheet in an even layer.  Roast for 40-50 minutes or until eggplant and onions are golden brown. 

Combine goat cheese and thyme in a small mixing bowl.  Spread a thin layer across each baguette slice.  Top with about ¼ c. eggplant mixture.  Repeat with remaining baguette slices.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Happy movie night!

– j

All content and photographs © 2010 jb’s pour house

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