I’ve recently been making this recipe, from my cookbook “In Cod We Trust, from Sea to Shore, the Cuisine of Coastal Massachusetts,” because it is truly the ideal August dish: a platter of roasted eggplant puree festooned with every color tomato you can find, all dressed in a bright vinaigrette, lest that smoky eggplant get too gloomy.
But I have been showering the whole platter in more vegetables, and adding a healthy pile of briny feta cheese. This truly ramps the whole thing up to a summer dinner.
The original recipe is from Martha’s Vineyard resident Jan Buhrman, who describes this as “one of those dishes you whip up right out of the garden or just home from the Farmer’s Market.” Yup.
Smokey Eggplant Platter
serves 4-6 as an appetizer, 2 as dinner
2 medium-large eggplants cut in half lengthwise.
6-8 cloves garlic wrapped in foil for the grill with 2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 teaspoon smoked paprika, or more to taste
2 medium heirloom variety tomatoes and 1 dozen colorful cherry tomatoes
1/4 small red onion thinly sliced (in arcs) or 1/4 cup chopped scallions
6-8 ounces good quality feta cheese, or more to taste
⅛ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley or shredded basil
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions Light the grill, allow it to get hot. Place the eggplant skin side down on grill. (Alternatively, do this in a very hot skillet, with a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil, on the stove.)
Place foil package of garlic on the grill. (or roast in a 375 degree F. oven for 20 minutes) Remove the garlic from the grill after 5 minutes, but leave it in the foil as it will continue to cook.
Cook eggplant until the skin is charred, turning as needed, and each half completely collapsed. You should be able to stick a knife into all parts of the flesh with no resistance at all. Allow to cool.
Into the bowl of a food processor scrape the eggplant flesh out of its skin. Squeeze in the roasted pulp from garlic head. Add the paprika and process very lightly, not letting it get too smooth. Spread the eggplant onto the center of a platter, pushing it neatly around to the size of a dinner plate. Arrange tomatoes on top of eggplant. I like to use a variety of cuts: one tomato sliced. one tomato cut into edges, small cherry tomatoes cut into halves, etc for variety and interest. Sprinkle on the onions or scallions, and feta. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup mix together olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, chopped parsley (or basil), salt and pepper, and distribute all over the tomatoes and eggplant. Serve with toasted pita wedges or sturdy crackers.