Saturday, August 21, 2010
Eggplant and summer squash terrine
Andrew and I went to Italy about 2 years ago, where we experienced a great many culinary revelations - the fact that pasta soaked in oil could somehow not taste oily at all; the comforting taste of soft, creamy polenta; the idea that lasagna could be made with very little cheese and not a drop of tomato sauce; the pillowy, light texture of perfectly made gnocchi; and the discovery that one can never have too much gelato, to name a few. I have memories of a simple but delicious lunch of crusty bread and cheese in Venice (and being attacked by pigeons, but never mind that), a dinner of baby octopus and pea soup in Pisa, freshly caught anchovies in Cinque Terre, grappa in Florence, and hot espressos everywhere. I remember realizing that wine in Italy is often cheaper than soda, and noticing that people looked at us strangely if we didn't drink wine with lunch. In Florence, we marveled at the fact that goat cheese, prosciutto, and arugula were normal, everyday sandwich ingredients, not fancy ones. And then we ate more gelato.
Anyway, before I get too caught up in the reminiscing, let me explain that this rush of memories comes as a result of flipping through The Silver Spoon, which is a giant tome of an Italian cookbook that a friend (thanks Brian!) recently gave us as a wedding gift. This book is packed full of recipes that got me remembering (and hoping to recreate) the flavors of our trip to Italy.
This eggplant terrine recipe caught my eye right away (I seem to be a bit obsessed with eggplant at the moment). It is time consuming to make, but definitely worthwhile - it is all kinds of delicious. Not too eggy, not too cheesy - it really shows off the flavors of the vegetables. With eggplant, summer squash, red bell peppers, and tomatoes, it is absolutely perfect for this time of year.
Some recipe notes: The original recipe used just eggplant, but I used a combination of eggplant and summer squash, which was great. Make sure to cut the eggplant and squash into uniform, thin slices so that they cook evenly and quickly. I used a mixture of cheeses (noted below), based on the odds and ends that I had in the fridge - I'm sure there are other cheeses that would also work well. Last thing, just so you know - the terrine doesn't look very pretty once it is turned out onto a plate. Still tastes great though!
Eggplant and summer squash terrine
Adapted from The Silver Spoon
2 red bell peppers
1 medium eggplant (mine was about 10 oz), cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 medium summer squash (about 1 pound), cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated cheese (the recipe suggests Emmenthal, but I used a mixture of Swiss, goat gouda, and parmagiano-reggiano)
8 basil leaves, chopped
A few oregano sprigs, leaves removed and chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 garlic clove, lightly smashed (optional)
Preheat oven to the broil setting. Cut the bell peppers in half, and remove seeds and ribs. Place peppers on a baking pan, skin side up and roast until skin is blackened and blistering all over. Take peppers out of oven, place them in a paper bag or tupperware container, and close the container. Let peppers cool and steam for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place eggplant and summer squash slices on a broiling pan (you will probably have to do this in batches), brush with oil, and broil until golden brown and tender (about 5-7 mins).
Turn oven temperature to 350 deg F. Lightly oil an ovenproof dish. When the peppers have cooled, remove their skins and chop the flesh. Mix together the grated cheese, eggs, herbs, chopped peppers, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Layer 1/3 of the eggplant and squash slices on the bottom of the oiled dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread 1/3 of egg mixture on top, and then repeat layering two more times (3 total layers, sprinkling the veggies with s + p each time, ending with egg mixture on top). Place the dish in a baking pan, and add enough water to the baking pan to come about halfway up the sides. Bake for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, put tomatoes in a small pot with a splash of olive oil (and the garlic, if using). Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until tomatoes break down and liquid reduces, about 20-30 minutes. Discard garlic and pass mixture through a strainer or food mill (you could also blend it with an immersion blender or food processor).
When terrine is finished baking, remove the terrine dish from the baking pan and let cool for about 5 minutes. Turn terrine onto a serving plate and serve with tomato sauce. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for a couple days.