Now, I know that the broiler is a perfectly normal (and perhaps integral) part of the cooking equipment & routines of most people. However, last night was the first time I’d ever used one and I have to say, I am glad that I have finally used it.
I grew up with an electric stove, and as far as I can recall we never had a broiler — just that pots & pans drawer. So, as a not-very-adventurous cook after college, I never really paid much attention to whether or not I had one available. Well, beyond coming home soon after moving into my Somerville apartment to find it *full of smoke* with the alarm going off because my housemate had put something in the broiler and run out for more soda. While no one was home. Needless to say, I never used that broiler because I was pretty sure it never got cleaned after that, and really? That is not a very good introduction to them as a part of your quick-dinner arsenal. Then in my first apartment in Baltimore the broiler door seemed broken, and also I was pretty sure it was filthy.
Anyway, last night I tried out this recipe with an eggplant I got for my part of the CSA a couple of weeks ago. I started out by slicing and salting/draining the eggplant (I did four slices, a little less than half an eggplant) as noted, and coating it in olive oil. Then I stuck them on the broiler and flipped them every two minutes, until they seemed close enough to done to me. With a minute to go, I threw in two slices of bread (about 1/3 of a baguette, sliced lengthwise) with some garlic and olive oil rubbed on. The top of the bread was gently browned, and the eggplant was cooked through without being mushy (all told it was in there about 9 minutes; you probably don’t need to flip it so much, I just wasn’t sure how long it would take). I layered everything up into two open-face sandwiches. Bottom to top I had bread, chevre, fresh basil leaves, eggplant, tomatoes, chevre, eggplant.
It was delicious. The chevre melted a bit, the tomatoes were juicy, the flavors came together beautifully. The bread had started to brown but was still soft, so it held together pretty well until the last couple of bites. (I should note that I probably made some rude faces while trying to bite through the eggplant skin; those without an overbite will probably have an easier time of that than I did. But I live alone so I only mention this in case you should feel inclined to Win Over Someone’s Heart with this dish, in which case may I just point you straight to these instead?)
For my protein, I had a side of mediocre white bean salad. For me this was a very tasty meal, just about the right size. A little light on the protein since the salad wasn’t that good, but if you make a better one and eat more of it, then you’ll be fine.