The Summer in Toronto is one of the lustiest, I think, in the world. Those steamy, heat-hazy, lazy-crazy, long-limbed days that wrap their humid, whispering tendrils around your bare throat and exposed shoulders do something inexplicable to this city and the people in it. The girls, the boys, the dogs, the ducks: no one escapes the sensuality of it, we are all susceptible to Summer’s hot, sticky embrace. But before we completely lose our heads to this love affair there is, as in any meaningful, dirty little tryst, the courtship; the tease, the tempt, the flirt and the fluster. A few gorgeous, sunny days sauntering by our Wintery table at the end of April have us shaking out our hair in false hope of an early Summer, only to be firmly reminded that we are the flirtee, not the flirter, by a cold shoulder for half of May as we look longingly at our Summer wardrobes and the pretty, colourful mannequins in store windows.
And then, slowly, almost painfully, just when you think she’ll never notice you, that she has eyes only for the muscular, deep tan muscles of Texas, she. Stops. And turns that beautiful, golden head and looks you straight in the eye. The Glory that radiates from Summer’s eyes envelopes us all, does it not? But now that she’s seen you, now that you finally have her attention, how can you, such a humble little creature, keep that gorgeous gaze locked firmly with your own. How to impress such a fickle lover, you ask? Why, with a barbecue, of course. If you cook up the coals just right, who knows, she may just stay for dessert.
Just don’t expect it.
I made these eggplants for a dinner party the first time, baked for about 40 minutes at 350˚F and had a bunch left over when we decided to open up the Weber . Wrapped in foil, they were just so good and the left overs were somehow even better the next day when I removed the skins, spread the pulp and topping on toast and grilled with some gruyere in the oven for a couple of minutes.
* this recipe makes enough for about 5 or 6 baby eggplants. Adjust accordingly.
Eggplant with Sundried Tomato and Shitake topping
Baby eggplants, halved
⅓ cup sundried tomatoes in olive oil, drained
½ red onion, roughly chopped
sprig fresh thyme
small sprig rosemary
1 clove garlic
50g (big handful) shitake mushrooms
¼ tsp dried Italian herb mix
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil (about 60ml/¼ cup)
– cut the eggplants in half and salt generously. Leave for an hour or so at room temperature. Rinse and pat dry.
– place all ingredients (except eggplant) in a processor and blitz until finely chopped (or chop it all by hand). Season and add enough olive oil to for a thick, chunky paste close to but drier than a pesto. Allow it to sit for 45 mins to develop.
– place eggplant halve skin side down on enough foil to fully wrap them ein. Top with tomato mushroom mix and barbeque for about 30 minutes on the rack.
– serve with a generous amount of sunshine and chilled beverages.