Berenjenas con Queso


Berenjenas with queso, or eggplant with cheese, is a Spanish tapa I made in my cooking class this past week. It went over quite well—everyone raved about the tenderness and lack of bitterness in the eggplant as well as the fresh, mild Spanish cheese. Here I used three month-aged Iberico to complement the fresh herbs and lightly cooked tomato sauce, but you could also use a longer aged Manchego to contrast the flavors.
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Servings: 6
Time: 45 minutes active; 90 minutes total
1 pound eggplant, cut into 1/2” slices
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pound tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper and sugar, each
1/4 cup flour
4 ounces Spanish cheese, such as Manchego, Idiazabal, Roncal, Mahon or Iberico, cut into small wedges
Fresh, earthy herbs, such as oregano, thyme or rosemary
1. Salt eggplant and leave to drain 30 minutes in a strainer. Pat dry to remove excess liquid. This will remove bitterness and help tenderize the eggplant. (Note: Try finding slender eggplant like a Japanese variety or the one from my garden, Rosita.)
2. Meanwhile, lightly fry the onion in the olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. When slightly softened, add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaf and seasonings. Simmer for up to 1 hour (basically, while you finish the eggplant). Puree in food processor or with a hand blender, if you want a smooth sauce. Keep warm.
3. When eggplant is ready, dip in flour and fry in 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil per batch over medium high heat. Remove to plate.
4. To serve, place a piece of eggplant on plate, top with a spoonful of tomato sauce and a wedge of cheese, and sprinkle with herbs. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Writer Bio: Adrienne D. Capps loves food and is a vegetarian—she doesn’t believe these things are mutually exclusive. A vegetarian for the past nine years, Capps created as a way to share her passion for eating, drinking and cooking—and to make vegetarianism more accessible. The blog transforms meat dishes into vegetarian or improves vegetarian recipes and puts the results up in a weekly post called the Sunday Serving on the blog and at the Facebook Group Vegetarianized. Capps is also a food writer, teaches cooking classes in Davis and is an amateur caterer. Upcoming cooking classes and recent food articles are found on the blog home page.