Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Eggplant Zapatini

Each issue of Everyday Food has a page with the unfortunate title "zap it," featuring a dish cooked entirely in the microwave. I've never made any of these recipes, a little skeeved out with the idea of cooking my dinner entirely with microwave radiation, no matter how safe they say it is.

So I compromised on this month's offering. For EF's "zap-it" version of Eggplant Rollatini, you season eggplant slices with salt and pepper and microwave them "until tender and pliable but not fully cooked, 6 to 8 minutes." I zapped them for 5 minutes, and worried that even that was too much, but it turned out alright. However, I wasn't about to roll them up with a mixture of ricotta, Parmesan, egg, garlic, salt and pepper and zap that. The recipe recommended 15 to 17 minutes and I imagined a rubbery mass of eggplant and cheese. So I baked the rolled eggplant, surrounded with some of my homemade marinara, at 350 for 20 minutes, going on my grandfather's old saw, "I like a nice 350 oven." Once the sauce was bubbling up from the bottom of the dish, I scattered some shredded fresh mozzarella on top and let it melt for another four minutes.

Semi-zapped, I'll take this dinner any day. Salty cheese stuffed inside eggplant that had become almost sweet in the cooking, topped with chunks of tomatoes. And now I've got another use for my microwave besides warming up milk for my morning coffee.--S

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