Friday, November 16, 2007

Eggplant Timbales with Quick and Easy Tomato-Basil Sauce

Remember these? Nice presentation and all, but a bit labor intensive. Enter an easier, just as tasty version that takes half the time to prepare and plate: Tah-dah! Eggplant Timbales: Take Two.
Prepping the filling for the timbales took about 1/2 hour. The sauce is easily made while the timbales are roasting in a water bath for 1 hour. Not bad for a weeknight, hmmm?

Eggplant Timbales with Tomato-Basil Sauce
for the timbales-
4 cups peeled eggplant cubes (1/2-inch dice)
olive oil for the pan
Kosher salt
1 - 15-ounce container low fat ricotta cheese
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained
3/4 cup coarsely grated
parmigiano reggiano cheese
1/3 cup toasted, seasoned bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons
Italian herb mix
kosher salt
freshly ground
black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Using a very sharp chef's knife, slice the peel from the eggplant, cutting off the stem and stern ends.
With the eggplant sitting upright, cut 1/2-inch wide lengthwise slices, then cut each slice in 1/2-inch wide lengthwise strips, then cut those into 1/2-inch cubes.
(It took 1 large and 3 small eggplants to get 4 cups of cubes.)
Place these in a large, well-oiled roasting pan and roast at 375 degrees for about 18 minutes, shaking the pan frequently, until the cubes are golden brown and softened.
Remove the pan from the oven, then the cubes from the roasting pan and set aside to cool.
Turn the oven down to 350 degrees, wipe the roasting pan and set aside. You will use this in a few minutes to bake the timbales.

Meanwhile, combine the ricotta cheese, pine nuts, sundried tomato, parmesan, bread crumbs, Italian herbs (crush them with your fingers as you add them to release the fragrance) and eggs in a bowl and mix well.
Fold in the roasted eggplant as soon as it's cool enough to handle. Mix well but don't break up the cubes.
Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper if needed.
Fill 6 6-ounce, lightly oiled, ceramic ramekins with the eggplant filling. Place the filled ramekins into the roasting pan and pour enough hot water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan loosely with foil and roast in the oven for 1 hour or until firm to touch and slightly golden brown.

Using tongs, carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath and set on a heat-proof surface.

While the timbales are roasting...

...make this delicious sauce.
Quick and Easy Tomato-Basil Sauce
Christine's original recipe
1 cipollini onion, chopped fine
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled and minced
handful of fresh basil leaves, left whole
1 large can whole tomatoes (I used
Muir Glen Fire-roasted organic, simply the best canned tomato, IMHO)
1/3 cup red wine (I used a fun little
Cabernet that I found at our local Co-op for under $10.)
olive oil
flat-leaf Italian parsley for garnish

In a skillet over medium heat, add a teaspoon of good olive oil and the chopped onions and sauté until beginning to soften.
Add the minced garlic and continue to sauté a few more minutes until both are soft and aromatic. Keep the heat adjusted so no burning occurs.
Add the entire can of tomatoes, breaking them up gently with a wooden spoon, then the basil leaves and the red wine.
Allow this mixture to simmer gently for 5 to 7 minutes, then remove from the heat and let it cool slightly.
Pour the chunky sauce into a food processor and pulse until thickly puréed, about 30 seconds.
Pour the sauce back into the skillet and keep warm until ready to serve.

Speaking of serving:

Run a knife around the inside of each ramekin to loosen the timbale.

Place several spoonfuls of sauce on a warmed plate.
Invert the timbale into your clean hand and place upside down on the sauce.
Sprinkle with chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley.

Copyright © 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved