Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Roasted Eggplant and Fennel Flatbread

It's really not much fun at all trying to get back on the wagon after the holidays, I must admit. I've been eating out a lot and not eating much that is good for me. However, times have got to change. So, even though I was starving when I left work, I resisted the temptation to eat something awful and came home to start working through some of the veggies left over from my Bountiful Basket. And I was so glad I did!
This is really a mutt of a dish. Italian-style roasted eggplant and fennel, Greek tzatziki, and Indian naan. Last weekend, I happened upon a new Indian grocery store near me. I got some paneer, lots of curry powders and other spices, and some fantastic-looking naan. I knew I'd never eat it all, so I put half in the freezer. For the other half, I had an eggplant and two fennel bulbs lurking in the fridge. Perfect!

I followed this recipe to make tzatziki sauce, which is a cucumber-dill-yogurt sauce. It's creamy, tart, and has a really fresh taste with the cucumber. Put in the fridge to chill after you've assembled it. The longer it sits, the more flavorful it will become.
Then get working on the eggplant because you have to drain it. Eggplant has a high water content, so you want to get rid of a lot of that water before cooking so it's not a mushy mess. Slice your eggplant up (I like thicker slices so they don't fall apart) and sprinkle both sides liberally with salt. Put them in a strainer to drain. Let them sit for as long as you can. I think I only gave mine about a half hour, but an hour would be better. To really get as much moisture out as I can, I put two paper towels on my cutting board, spread out my eggplant in a single layer, put two more paper towels over them, and then go over them with a rolling pin to squeeze out the liquid. While they were sitting in salt, I cut fennel.
I think in the future, I would have cut the fennel a bit thinner, but this was fine. I tossed in about 2 T. of olive oil, lots of black pepper, and a sprinkle of fancy pink salt.

When the eggplant was drained, I breaded it. I took about 1/2 cup of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and mixed in 2 T. fresh grated parmesan cheese. I brushed each piece with olive oil, dredged it in the breadcrumbs on both sides, and placed them in a single layer on a baking sheet. I dumped the fennel next to the eggplant because I'm all for one-dish meals and shredded some parmesan cheese over it.
I baked this at 325 degrees for about twenty minutes, or until the fennel was done. Then I removed the fennel to a bowl, flipped the eggplant over, and cranked up the oven to 425 degrees until the eggplant had a nice crust.
When the eggplant was nearly done, I cut a piece of my lovely naan in half and put it in the oven to warm.
When the naan was warm, I put it on a plate and layered on two rounds of chopped eggplant, a hearty spoonful of fennel, and topped it with some tzatziki.
I have to admit, this little mutt of a dish turned out really well. I ate it with an orange I found in the fruit drawer, and this was really not a bad Tuesday evening light meal. And I have leftovers for tomorrow! I will totally do this again. Now, what to do with that spaghetti squash lurking in the crisper?