Mark Bittmans’ Kitchen Express is a cookbook that I don’t use near enough. However, when I’m seriously stumped and don’t want anything too complicated, this is the one I inevitably go to. The recipes are short and sweet, none more than a quarter of a page long and all very in the spirit of “chuck in a little of this, or maybe a little of that” and “if you don’t have that, this works just as well.” It’s perfect for the lazy cook (not that that’s me, well sometimes on Fridays…) who still wants to eat fresh, seasonal and inspiring food that’s real and simple to prepare. Eggplant Rolls, #44 in the “Fall” section, were perfect after a long first week of work. The only ingredient I didn’t have on hand was a handful of chopped basil but, luckily, I did have about a 1/4 cup of leftover pesto. Perfect! I topped mine with tomato sauce, but Bitty says all that’s really needed is a drizzle of good balsamic. Since I tried them both ways, I have to concur with Bitty. Don’t bother with the tomato sauce if you don’t have any on hand.
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express.
1 large eggplant peeled and cut into quarter-inch slices, lengthwise
1 cup Ricotta cheese (use a good one here, I used DeLallo’s part-skim)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup pesto
salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil
tomato sauce, jarred or leftover homemade (optional)
balsamic vinegar (preferred)
Heat a skillet or grill pan over medium high heat and brush the eggplant slices with olive oil on both sides. Salt and pepper both sides. Grill until tender. This will have to be done in batches. Remove eggplant slices and cool. In a medium bowl, mix the cheeses with the pesto and add some salt and pepper to taste. Spread a couple of tablespoons of the cheese mixture on each eggplant slice and roll up. Place in casserole to serve. Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, or to taste. If adding tomato sauce, use just enough to cover and put in a 350° oven until bubbly, about 10-15 minutes.
These can be made ahead of time and heated lightly in the oven before serving. However, don’t drizzle the balsamic until you’re ready to serve.
Honestly, these were so rich and delicious that I could only eat one at a time, which meant I was eating them all week. They will probably go further than you think for you too.
And, by the way, the ricotta mixture was so delicious that next time I might just be happy spreading it on some crostini or crackers and calling it a day!
After this tasty and très simple recipe, more Kitchen Express experimentation is definitely in order. Up next, Gruyère Apple Grilled Cheese peut-être, or maybe some Nutella Fondue (Mon Dieu!). I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.