Fairytale Eggplant Parmigiana

serves 4 to 6

There’s an amazing variety of eggplants out there, and if you’re close to a farmers’ market now is the time to discover them. I’m quite fond of Japanese eggplants for their creamy, mellow flavor. Last summer I eyed fairytale eggplants but never took the leap to buy them. As I wandered the Union Square farmers’ market last Wednesday, I figured it was time to try something new. It turns out fairytales aren’t just for kids. The prep is easy too, so no need for a fairy godmother with this eggplant. Just remove the stems and slice the bite-sized eggplant in half.

I’ve noted this recipe as serving 4 to 6, and when fleshed out with perhaps some pasta and a salad that is true. If you’re on deadline for a book though, and find that one tiny portion just by itself isn’t enough, you may only get two servings out of this dish.

Extra virgin olive, to coat the pan

13 fairytale eggplants (247 grams), stems trimmed & cut in half

2 cups (500 ml) marinara sauce

1/2 cup (30 grams) freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese

Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).

Drizzle some olive oil into a 9-inch glass pie plate, about 2 teaspoons worth. Tilt the dish to swirl it around the bottom and slightly up the sides. Arrange the eggplant, skin side down, in a single-layer in the dish. Evenly pour the marinara sauce on top. Sprinkle the cheese over the sauce.

Bake for 25 minutes, until the eggplant is very tender when pierced with a fork and the cheese is golden. Remove from the oven and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes before serving.