Here’s the thing about broiling eggplant: you’ve got to broil it. That’s great for people with broilers and previous experience using them. But I wasn’t 100% sure until I called my mom five minutes before starting this recipe that the drawer under the oven where I store my baking dishes was even a broiler. Our oven didn’t come outfitted with a broiler pan to use in said broiler, so I just figured ours didn’t have that capability…despite the very clearly marked “Broil” setting on the display. In short, it’s nothing I’ve used before, and I wasn’t about to try for the first time without the proper equipment.
The result was undercooked oven-roasted eggplant instead of broiled, which yielded nothing close to the intended results of what should have been a great simple recipe. I let my man Nigel Slater down with this one, I’m afraid. Not terrible, but no great shakes either. As for the garlic “cream,” we could have used more garlic and I wasn’t a fan of using mayonnaise as the base. The whole dish reminded us a lot of Yotam Ottolenghi’s eggplant with buttermilk sauce, the cover recipe from Plenty. These rich cream sauces just aren’t our thing, I guess. Give me a dollop of labne over this stuff any day.
Fortunately, it was a 2-in-1 night. Recipe 2 still needs work, but I enjoyed it a lot more overall and can see us making it again with some tweaks. I used some of the biggest beefsteak tomatoes we could find at Brooklyn Grange.
I sliced the tops off, hollowed the tomatoes out with a spoon, chopped the insides, and added them to a saute of onions, carrots, canned diced tomatoes, and a bay leaf. Next to go in were the butter beans and basil, which turned out to be my favorite part of the dish, just because they were the only respite from all the sweetness. My big adjustment for next time I make this will be to leave out the 2 teaspoons of sugar added in with the beans, because the tomatoes, carrots, and onions were plenty sweet on their own.
Here are my tomatoes, stuffed with the butter bean filling, with their adorable little kapaks (hats) put back on. Into the oven they went, until they were, exactly as Slater instructed, “on the verge of collapse.