Eggplant was once a stand-in for meat in humble Italian homes. Now the vegetable is beloved in its own right for its silky texture and ability to absorb flavor. Here, the eggplant is roasted and then paired with equally flavorful mushrooms braised in white wine.
Roasted Eggplant with Wine-Braised Mushrooms and Gremolata
- 3 slender eggplant, such as Asian eggplant, about 1 lb. (500 g) total weight
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large shallots, finely diced (about 1/2 cup/3 oz./90 g)
- 1 lb. (500 g) mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, portobello and shiitake, sliced
- 3 or 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml) dry white wine
For the gremolata:
- 1 cup (1 oz./30 g) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
- 1 large garlic clove, coarsely chopped
- 3 strips lemon zest
- 1 strip orange zest
1. Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Make a series of deep crisscross slashes on the cut sides of the eggplant and sprinkle 1/2 tsp. salt over them. Place, cut side down, on a wire rack or plate and let stand for 30 to 60 minutes.
2. Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Gently squeeze the eggplant halves to remove any bitter juices and pat dry. Brush 3 Tbs. of the olive oil on the cut sides, getting some inside the slashes. Place the eggplant, cut side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Roast until the eggplant is very soft and their skins have turned brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and tent with aluminum foil.
4. Meanwhile, in a large fry pan over medium-low heat, warm the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat them with the oil. Season with 1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper, and add the thyme sprigs. Raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have given off some liquid, about 10 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and pour in the wine. Let it bubble for 1 to 2 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a gentle simmer until the mushrooms are tender and the liquid is thickened but not completely evaporated, about 10 minutes longer.
5. To make the gremolata, mound the parsley, thyme, garlic, lemon zest and orange zest on a cutting board and chop until finely minced.
6. Arrange the eggplant halves, cut side up, on a warmed serving platter and spoon the mushrooms over and around them. Spoon the pan juices over the vegetables, sprinkle the gremolata on top and serve. Serves 6 to 8.
Find more recipes like this one in our enticing collection of authentic dishes made modern, Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti.