Beautiful to look at and loaded with flavor, these are a hit at any dinner party!
These would make a perfect accompaniment to pretty much any roast meat, but are also deliciously satisfying on their own as a vegetarian option. The roasted eggplant is beautifully sweet, and the cool, creamy ricotta creates a nice contrast.
If you can’t find baby eggplant (I’ll be attempting growing some of my own this year) I suspect you could slice a mature eggplant and roast the slices. Then you could top it with the ricotta and drizzle it with olive oil just like I did with these. In fact you could probably do it in strips and roll them up for an appetizer.
Based on my experiments, the best way to eat them is similar to an artichoke leaf. Just sink your teeth in and pull, scraping off all of the delicious filling, and leaving the tough skin behind. I also tried eating them with the skin, which wasn’t totally unpleasant, but I preferred them without it.
Makes 16 halves
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Wash the eggplant and cut them into halves. Place on a cookie sheet cut side up. Drizzle with the olive oil and then sprinkle with the fennel pollen (if using), salt and pepper. Bake in a 350 degree (F) oven for about 45 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature. Right before serving top with about a teaspoon of ricotta cheese per half. Sprinkle with freshly cracked peppercorns (pink or mixed if you have them) and just a few grains of salt. Drizzle with a good quality extra virgin olive oil.