My boyfriend left to go back to Myanmar today. Talk about a real lemon So, I thought, what better way to deal with this sadness than by doing some more cooking. I took the cookbook with me to breakfast in order to mull over the next few recipes to make and, while delighting in blueberry pancakes, I found the Lemon and Eggplant Risotto (pg. 231). It looked simple enough and would make for excellent leftovers, since now I’m cooking for one. No out-of-the-ordinary ingredients and I had been dying to try an eggplant dish (since every time I open the book I see the beautiful eggplant cover photo). So it was decided.
The recipe begins by “burning” one of the eggplants over an open flame on your stove-top. I have an electric range, so I went with Chef’s recommended alternative: placing the eggplant directly under the broiler in the oven for an hour. While my eggplant was “burning,” I cooked the rest of the dish. I made the mistake of using the same pan to both fry the other diced eggplant (which becomes the topping for the finished dish) and the onion and garlic mixture afterwards. This turned my onion brown and black, rather than the translucent shade it was supposed to be, and ended up shading my whole risotto on the browner side.
This mistake also added quite a bit of charred flavor, which was not needed, as the burned eggplant gave enough of that flavor itself. And, boy, was it burned (so was my cookie tray)! It turned out exactly as Chef described it: the skin was black and was cracking, the eggplant itself was completely deflated. It peeled out of its skin very easily and provided a very smoky taste to the dish.I finished adding the arborio rice (which I learned is the rice used to make risotto; I had never known this having only ever made risotto at home out of a package), the vegetable stock, the burned eggplant flesh, the lemon, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste and it was almost ready to go. I let it set a few minutes, then added the toppings: the diced and fried eggplant, more cheese, more lemon zest, some basil, and some fresh ground pepper. Done! And delicious! It took me about 1.5 hours to make the whole thing, which was great. The burned eggplant ended up getting done just about the same time it was ready to be added to the risotto. For a complicated looking dish, never having made risotto before or burned eggplants, it was surprisingly easy and relatively quick! I give this dish 4 stars, as it was very lemony and the smoky char flavor came through quite strongly (which, as stated, may have been my own fault with the onions…). But, overall, it was very good and I look forward to the next few meals of leftovers!