A recipe for roasted Japanese eggplants

Last week the food editor of the New York Times, Sam Sifton, wrote that he wished he had recorded what he was cooking when he started doing it 3 times a day, 7 days a week in lockdown.

I read this and was like, wait! I did. I missed the first few days as I was writing on Facebook, but about 5 days into lockdown, I switched to blog posts and started recording what I was eating and cooking every single day. I’m not entirely sure why I did this, but I enjoyed doing it and I kept it up until day 70 when we finally ventured out of the house for pizza.

Part of my motivation was the oddness of lockdown. Even without the pandemic, my boyfriend and I normally cook the majority of our meals, but during lockdown, my world grew so small that what was for dinner was as interesting to me as the evening news.

Today is Saturday and work has been busy lately so I was happy to sleep in and to make a fried egg for breakfast. The egg was fresh and came from the chickens in the backyard. I thought it might be a good idea to eat it with the hummus that Roberto made yesterday but it was a bit too garlicky first thing in the morning.

For lunch, I roasted Japanese eggplants with some canned tomatoes and pecorino cheese and Roberto made straccetti di manzo which is basically thinly sliced beef. He cooked it on the stovetop with kale and lemon juice, along with some olive oil, salt and pepper.

We rarely have wine for lunch at home but today is a beautiful October day in Rome and we ate in the sunshine on the terrace. Wine fit the mood. We opened a bottle of Biancoperso by Il Vinco, a favorite wine producer in Montefiascone which is where our lake house is on Lake Bolsena.

Lake Bolsena is a volcanic lake and the wine is made with minimal intervention with a variety of white grapes (Procanico, Malvasia Bianca, and Rossetto) grown in volcanic soil. I should have kept a wine journal in the pandemic. This I can improve upon.

Dinner remains a mystery and we’re debating going out to eat by the sea in Fiumicino.

Roasted Japanese eggplants

Serves 2 as a side

  • 4 to 6 Japanese eggplants – the long skinny ones
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Optional: colatura (anchovy sauce)
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Grated pecorino or other hard cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Place eggplants on a baking sheet and poke some holes in the skin with a fork. Coat in a couple tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until brown and tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook a crushed clove of garlic in a couple of tablespoons olive oil until the garlic is golden.
  4. Add the can of tomatoes and season with salt or colatura (anchovy sauce) and cook until the sauce is reduced and becomes thick and shiny.
  5. When the eggplants are tender, top with tomatos and a thick grating of pecorino cheese.
  6. Bake for about 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and serve immediately.

Eat well. Stay safe.

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