This recipe is written by Hetty McKinnon for the Neighborhood Studio blog.
This dish is inspired by a popular Catalan tapas dish, crispy fried eggplant with honey. A rich and big-flavored vegetarian dish, the silky, slightly sweet eggplant and the soufflé-like ricotta mixture provide a lightness that is hard to resist. If you can’t find manchego, substitute with parmesan cheese, but use less, about 1 cup should be fine.
5-6 tbsp runny honey
1 cup (250ml) olive oil
juice ½ lemon
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground coriander
4 medium, sliced lengthways into ½ cm (1/5 inch) thick
2 cups (500g) fresh whole milk ricotta
3 eggs, beaten
½ cup (125ml) heavy cream
2 cups (226g) grated manchego cheese
sea salt and black pepper
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cups (750g or about 2 large cans) chopped tomatoes
handful of fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, oregano), roughly chopped
2 tsp sugar
Preheat oven to 375˚F (190˚C).
To make the tomato sauce, place all the ingredients in a large pan, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and turn down to simmer for 30-35 minutes, until thick and richly flavored. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the honey, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and coriander. Season well with sea salt and black pepper. Oil a large baking tray. Dip each piece of eggplant into the honey mixture, and place them onto the oiled baking tray. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until soft and golden.
Place the ricotta, eggs, heavy cream into a medium bowl, and whisk to combine. Add the manchego cheese and mix well. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
In a large gratin, place one layer of eggplant, followed by a layer of tomato and then the cheese. Repeat, alternating the layers, until all the eggplant has been used. You should finish with a layer of cheese. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the surface is golden and looks soufflé-like. Serve with a green salad, and some bread to mop up the sauce!