Eggplant is one of those odd foods, much like tofu, that can be dreadful or the most amazing thing ever, depending on how it is prepared. This recipe lets its little aubergine-coloured light shine bright. It is tasty and rich and full of that elusive fifth taste, umami, that makes one serving never enough. Add to this delectably roasted eggplant some baby tomatoes, feta cheese, oregano and a rich custard, and you have a wonderful dish for a simple supper or to serve to guests.
My recipe is adapted from one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s ever-yummy creations. Serve with a salad and some crusty bread, or as part of a larger meal.
- 1/4 cup, plus 1 teaspoon olive oil for brushing
- 2 medium eggplants, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch slices (1 1/2 pounds total)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled into large chunks
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, each cut in half lengthwise
- 1/3 cup oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons za’atar
Preheat the oven to 425F. Later the eggplant slices on a baking dish (or two) and brush liberally with olive oil on both sides. Roast for 40 minutes, turning part way through, till well done. Remove from oven and cool.
Line the base and sides of a deep 7 1/2-inch square baking pan (or an 8-inch round baking pan) with parchment paper, letting some overhang the edges. Otherwise the eggplant will stick to the pan. Really.
Reduce oven temperature to 350F. Combine the feta, cream cheese, eggs, milk, salt, and some black pepper in a blender and puree till smooth.
Arrange the eggplant slices in the prepared baking pan, overlapping them if necessary. Add the tomatoes, using them to fill any gaps, and sprinkle with half of the oregano.
Pour the cream mixture into the pan, sprinkle with the remaining oregano and bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custard sets and turns golden. Mix the za’atar with the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil, brush this gently over the top and sides of the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.