Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Worth the Sweat / ça Vaut la Peine de Dégorger


Do you sweat your eggplant?
I used to. When I was still living under my parent’s roof, following my mother’s cooking rules I had always to sweat eggplants before cooking them. “It will absorb less oil if you sweat them,” she would tell me. Then, I moved away, get married and became rebellious against some of what I’ve learned, thinking it was obsolete, a waste of time to sweat my eggplants. I have my own kitchen, my own knifes and pans, no more: “It’s for dessert, don’t touch it!” I can do what I want; eat what I want, when I want.

I don’t fry eggplants; I roast them or broil them so there is no need to sweat them, I would tell my self. Of course I was wrong and my mother was right once again.

Sweating eggplant before cooking it not only helps tenderize the flesh’s texture but also reduces some of its bitter taste. When buying eggplants, choose the one that are firm to the touch with a smooth and shiny skin and no blemishes. And when it comes to the size the smaller the better. Big eggplant tends to be too spongy, bitter and with a tougher outer skin than the small ones. Although now available in markets throughout the years, eggplants are at their very best from August through October when they are in season.

I saw this recipe of ricotta balls on Nicky and Oliver’s gorgeous website and I had to try it right away; especially when I saw that the recipe was taken from Arte, one of my all time favorite TV channels.
On their website, they served them just as is with the salsa, but I wanted something different, definitely not pasta as it sounded a bit heavy for dinner. So this is how I came up with this vegetarian stuffed eggplant rolls for the enjoyment of my hubby who is a great meat-eater. Actually, even him didn’t miss the meat, as it is a very satisfying, very smooth and melt in your mouth dish. The ricotta stuffing has a texture similar to gnocchi but lighter and fresher, and the eggplant its self has a meaty quality to it and a bite that goes perfectly with the creaminess of the ricotta.

Overall, I would recommend this recipe to anyone who loves eggplant, but also to anyone who is still reticent to eating or cooking with eggplant. It was a very enjoyable dinner indeed, worth the sweating and waiting.
I am taking this recipe to the popular Weekend herb blogging, hosted this week by Myriam.


Stuffed Eggplant Rolls

- 1 eggplant, sliced vertically
- Kosher salt
For the Salsa finta
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 mid-sized onion, finely diced
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 21 ounces canned tomatoes, whole or crushed (including juice)
- A generous dash of sugar
- Sea salt (or Kosher salt), freshly ground black pepper
- A handful of fresh basil leaves
For the Polpette di ricotta:
- 9 ounces ricotta
- 1 ½ ounces freshly grated parmesan
- 1 mid-sized egg
- 3 ½ ounces breadcrumbs
- A handful chopped fresh parsley
- Sea salt (or Kosher salt), freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg to taste
- 2-3 tbsp of salsa finta

Sprinkle the sliced eggplant with a very generous amount of kosher salt. Put them over a colander and sweat it from 30 minutes to 1hour and a half, until a brown liquid comes out of the eggplants. Rinse and pat dry the eggplants. Brush each side of eggplants with some olive oil. Broil them or grill them on each side until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper while still hot. Set aside.
For the sauce: In a pan heat the oil. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add the tomato puree, then the canned tomatoes, crushed. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and the sugar.
Let it cook for 15 minutes and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
For the ricotta balls: Drain the ricotta over a fine-mesh sieve for at least an hour. In a large bowl, put the ricotta with the Parmesan, egg, two or three tbsp of salsa finta and parsley. Add the breadcrumbs gradually until you achieve a consistency that allows you to roll the ricotta into balls. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Mix until well incorporated. If the mix is too smooth add more breadcrumbs and if too firm add more salsa finta.
Form into logs and stuff each broiled slice of eggplant with it. Roll the stuffed eggplants and keep them tightly closed with toothpicks, Put them in the pan of salsa finta and let them cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes stirring from time to time to ensure even cooking. Just before serving add the basil leaves.


Roulade d’Aubergine

In francais please:
- Une aubergine, coupee verticalement en lamelles
- Du sel
Pour La Sauce Finta:
- 4 c.s d’huile d’olive
- 1 oignon moyen
- 2 c.s de tomate en conserve
- 600g de tomates pelées et coupée
- Une bonne pincée de sucre
- Sel, poivre fraichement moulu
- Une poignée de basilic
Pour Les boulettes de Ricotta:
- 250g de ricotta
- 40-50g de parmesan fraichement râpé
- 1 oeuf moyen
- 100g de chapelure
- Une poignée de persil, haché
- Du sel, poivre
- 2-3 c.s de sauce finta

Mettre les aubergines dans une passoire. Saupoudrer genereusement de sel et laisser degorger de 30 min jusqu’a 1 heure 30. Rincer les aubergine et bien les secher a l’aide d’une serviette. Badigeonner chaque lamelle d’huile d’olive et griller ou cuire sous le grill du four jusuq’a ce qu’elles deviennent bien dorées. Mettre de coté.
Pour la sauce finta, faites chauffe l’huile d’olive dans une poele. Ajouter les oignons et laisser cuire jusqu’a ce qu’il deviennent transluscides. Ajouter la tomate en conserve, les tomates coupée en dés, sel, poivre et le sucre. Laisser cuire 15 min et assaisonner plus si necessaire.
Pour les boulettes de ricotta, mettre le fromage de ricotta dans une étamine et laisser égoutter pendant une heure. Dans une jatte, mettre la ricotta, le parmesan, l’oeuf, deux ou trios c.s de sauce finta et le persil haché. Ajouter la chapelure petit a petit jusqu’a ce que vous puissiez faire des boulettes du mélange. Sel, poivre et une pincée de noix de muscade. Mélanger bien. Si le mélange est trop liquide ajouter le reste de chapelure, si il est trop sec ajouter plus de sauce finta.
De ce mélange de ricotta, faire des petits boudins que vous mettrez au milieu de chauqe lamellas d’aubergines. Rouler les aubergines et fermer avec des cure-dents. Mettre les roulades d’aubergine dans la sauce finta et laisser cuire encore 10 min, en tournant de temps en temps pour que la cuisson de la ricotta soit uniforme. Ajouter le basilic juste avant de servir.


Anonymous said...

Mum was right ... hard to say it isn't it ;)
sure that ricotta and eggplant are made to be married. It looks so ... smooth !!!
thanks for this nice recipe and the lesson :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I do sweat my eggplant, even when I'm tossing it on the grill. I rebelled for a while, too, but honestly you can taste the difference. Now, I sweat!

Anh said...

Rose, I made something similar lately, too. Just haven't had time blogging about it yet. Your version is soo elegant!

Deborah said...

This looks so tasty!

Warda said...

- Marion, Thank you very much for your nice words, always appreciated. Especially comming from the "Queen of eggplants". Elle n'est plus delaissee maintenant mon aubergine.

- Lydia, you're right. It does make a huge difference. Nothing like a good sweat!

- Anh, thank you my dear. I can't wait to see yours. I am sure I will fall in love with it too.

- Deborah, thank you. Glad you like it.

Anonymous said...

Cette association doit être exquise! et les couleurs sont belles avec le rouge de la tomate.

Anonymous said...

Looks fabulous, Rose! I've never sweated eggplants. I use the Chinese or Japanese eggplants and usually stirfry them or roast them. The flavor is mild enough that I'm not sure sweating is necessary.

Brilynn said...

Pretty pictures!
Eggplant is tricky to work with... I've been trying to be more patient lately and to sweat them, but it doesn't always happen.

Warda said...

- Samania, l'aubergine et la ricotta marche parfaitement ensemble. Merci pour ce gentil mot.

- Nikki, Thanks a lot my dear. I've seen Chinese eggpalnt before but never actually cooked with it. I've heard that they are sweeter than regular eggplant which explains why you don't really need to sweat them.

- Brilynn, thank you very much for the compliment. What I do is I leave the eggplants sweating all morning and forget about them until I use them for lunch.

Mandy said...

I love eggplant! This seems like another good recipe for eggplants.

Claude-Olivier Marti said...

voila un légume que je n'aimais pas trop avant...et bien heureusement que j'ai changé d'avis ^^! superbers photos comme d'hab! biz

Peabody said...

Such a beautiful photo...who knew eggplant could be so lovely!

Anonymous said...

quelle belle recette !!d'après ce que j'ai compris tu es une petite révoltée ;allergique au bain d'huile...c'est çà ou n'ai je pas bien compris.très belles photos aussi.biz

Warda said...

- Mandy, thank you very much. Change is always good for eggplant.

- Claude, heureusement que tu lui donnes une seconde chance a l'aubegine.merci beaucoup de ton compliment.

- Peabody, that's so sweet. Thanks.

- Mima, tu y es presque. Je me revoltais surtout de devoir a chaque fois degorger les aubergines parce que ma maman pensait que c'etais une etape necessaire. Je me suis rendu compte apres qu'elle avait bien raison et que ma revolte n'etait pas fondée. Bisous.

Gattina Cheung said...

Rose, great info, thanks!
This set of photos is so elegant, and I'm sure the rolls taste fantastic!
We chinese "sweat" the eggplant in a different way (but the logic still the same), we soak the slices in a pot of salted water for 30 mins :)

Warda said...

- Gattina, you are more than welcome my dear and thank you for your nice words. Your way of sweating eggplants is very different indeed. Never heard of it before.

SteamyKitchen said...

You are the only person I know in the world who can make an eggplant look SEXY..!!!!

The pics are so incredibly sensual!

Warda said...

- Jaden, if you think my eggplants are sexy wait until you see my butternut squash; That's HOT!

Kalyn Denny said...

Great post! I'm a recent convert to the joys of eggplant, but now that I've cooked it a few times I love it. This sound wonderful.

Warda said...

Kalyn, thank you very much for your kindness and for this healthy event that you've created.

Anonymous said...

I'm also guilty of forgoing the "sweating" step. Looks like I've been caught out. Think I will go back to sweating. :)
Thanks for the great recipe!

Warda said...

- Mia, welcome to the club of "sweating rebels" but at least we learn from our mistakes. I am glad you enjoyed the dish. Thanks for stoping by.

Anonymous said...

Try stuffed with goat cheese, dried tomatoes OMg so long ago maybe something else ? Ohhh so yummy