This delightful, summer side dish features tiny Fairy Tale eggplants strewn with mint and topped with crumbled feta cheese. The recipe is as simple as layering the ingredients in a baking dish and popping in the oven. The result is a creamy and flavorful mixture that is perfect to serve as an appetizer or first course when eating al fresco.
Farmers markets or specialty grocers are your best bet for finding the baby eggplants, but if you don't have any luck, slender Japanese eggplants or even full-sized eggplants can work, though you may need to increase both the other ingredient quantities as well as the cooking time accordingly.
- 1 pint (about 8 ounces) Fairy Tale eggplants (trimmed and halved lengthwise)
- Pinch of sea or kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- 1 1/2 ounces sheep's or cow's milk feta cheese (crumbled)
- Pinch of Za'atar
Gather the ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Arrange the eggplants cut-side up in a baking dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer.
Sprinkle the eggplant halves with a pinch of salt. Drizzle evenly with half of the olive oil. Sprinkle evenly with the chopped mint then the feta cheese. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil.
Roast the eggplants in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender and the feta is golden brown in spots. Serve warm.
Fairy Tale Eggplants
Although you may not find them in your local supermarket, these farmers market treasures are worth the hunt. The elongated eggplant is a medium purple with white striations and fits in the palm of your hand. They are delicate in flavor and turn creamy when cooked. They are small enough to be cooked whole and are easily sliced, cubed, and quartered, allowing you to bake, stir-fry, and grill, which perhaps may make it a challenge when deciding how to prepare Fairy Tales.
Make It a Mezze
Take a cue from the Mediterranean flavors showcased in this dish, and serve the eggplants as part of a mezze spread, which is the Middle Eastern version of tapas. Offer baked chickpea fritters, a dish of mixed olives, a variety of roasted vegetables, such as red peppers, cauliflower, and zucchini, Israeli hummus, and store-bought or homemade pita.
During Shavuot, the Jewish harvest festival in the fall, cheese also has a starring role on the menu. Consider creating a farmer's market-inspired spread, and serve the eggplants with an heirloom tomato salad with goat cheese and arugula, a hearty barley and roasted vegetable salad, and cookbook author Ronnie Fein's roasted pistachio-crusted salmon. Finish the meal with a favorite cheesecake recipe.