Roasted eggplant - Hanging on to summer

Eggplant is an impressive vegetable. I am not sure what it is, but eggplant has a very mysterious, almost mythical quality to it. With its royal purple hue, and alluring figure, I find it hard not to pick one up while shopping for produce, particularly when they have overgrown to the size of a small watermelon. And it always reminds me of summer, so while the final days of summer are passing by, and the weather is finally beginning to cool and the humidity lower, I celebrate with slow roasted eggplant.

Eggplant is one of those vegetables that takes center stage at the table.
When I cook with eggplant it is never for a side dish, eggplant gets it's own side dishes. It's meaty, and substantial, and can not be eaten/treated like every other vegetable.

With that said, I must admit that I have a very hard time cooking eggplant. I have eaten it out hundreds of times, and love it every time. The way it's skin softens to just hold together the fleshy interior, sweetness evoked from this otherwise bitter vegetable. I've eaten it fried, baked, breaded, served spicy, with lemon, or pureed. And of all those dishes that I tried to replicate in my own kitchen, I have often times just come away with  olive oil soaked eggplant, still tasty but far too greasy, and have rarely been able to coax the subtleties of the eggplant.

That is until I went the easiest route possible with my big purple meal. I cut it in half, spiked with garlic, drizzled with oil, and sprinkled with salt. Slow roasted it in the oven for an hour to an hour and a half, and ejoyed a most enjoyable eggplant dish, with eggplant as the star and fried tomatoes as its sidekick.

Slow Roasted Eggplant
Serves 2

1 eggplant, cut in half
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1-3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan slices
1 tomato, sliced in thick 1/2 inch slices
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Score the eggplant with diagonal lines, going in both directions, so that they criss-cross.
Slide the thin slices of garlic into the scores of the eggplant, evenly distributing. Brush the eggplant with 1 Tbs olive oil on each side, and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Place in an oven proof dish, and bake for an hour to an hour and a half. Check on the eggplant after an hour, it is ready when it is very soft. When almost ready, lay the Parmesan slices on top, and allow to brown. At the same time, heat the remaining olive oil in a pan, and heat the tomato slices.
Serve the eggplant half with tomato slices on the side and Enjoy.