AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Breaking Out Summer (Recipe: Eggplant Portobello Torta) DATE: 12/04/2009 11:27:00 AM ----- BODY:

When winter seems interminable, usually around the beginning of February, I break into my stash of jarred tomatoes. The red jewels of the summer garden were canned at their peak of flavor. And when I need a dose of sunshine, the bright, sweet acidity exudes summer warmth.

In typical years, I can about 2 dozen jars. After I give a few out as gifts, I ration myself – one or two jars a month. I try to hold off as long as I can before I start digging in so that during the coldest days, I know I’ll have an antidote to dreary New England winters.

This year, I had a canning-palooza, with a record 72 jars! I’ve become a little reckless. Yes, I know, winter doesn’t officially start until December 21st. But last night, I opened the first two jars.

I pureed a can of smoked tomatoes with a can of tomato sauce for a simple, yet flavorful sauce to grilled leg of lamb. A “Portobello” napoleon rounded out the plate.

Roast Leg of Lamb with Eggplant Portobello Torta and Smoked Tomato Coulis
Serves 4
4 portobellos, caps only
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
1 eggplant
1/4 cup flour
1 egg mixed with ¼ cup water
1 cup bread crumbs
1 can smoked tomatoes
Canola/olive oil mix for cooking

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ bunch fresh sage, chopped
½ bunch fresh thyme, chopped
½ bunch scallions, green and white parts, chopped.
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Make the marinade: Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add herbs and spices, and cook about 2 minutes more, until they are fragrant. Let marinade cool. Add lamb, and marinate overnight.
2. Put mushrooms in a single layer on a baking sheet, fins up.
3. Sprinkle with garlic, shallots, vinegar, oil, and thyme.
4. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Roast in 400F oven for 15 minutes, or until tender.

6. Cut the eggplant on a bias into at least 4 slices. Season eggplant with a generous sprinkling of salt. Let sit for 20 minutes. Rub off excess salt off and pat dry.
7. Bread the eggplant: use three dishes, one for flour, one for the egg, and one for the bread crumbs. Coat with flour, then dip in the egg mixture and finally coat with bread crumbs.
8. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil to coat the bottom of the pan, by ¼ inch. Fry eggplant for 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and crispy. Let the eggplant drain on a paper towel.
9. Puree tomatoes. Warm in a sauce pan over medium heat. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as desired.
10. Preheat oven to 425F.
11. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Sear lamb on all sides until brown
12. Roast lamb for 15 minutes, or until cooked to desired doneness.
13. Make a “sandwich” with the eggplant, cheese and Roasted Portobellos.
14. Bake at 400F until the cheese is melted.
15. Meanwhile, slice lamb.
16. Garnish with sandwich, tomato coulis and broccoli.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Fresh Local and Best DATE:12/04/2009 08:14:00 PM Wow! 72 jars! That is impressive! It's great to see the fruits of your harvest all year long. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous noble pig DATE:12/06/2009 12:06:00 AM Those mushrooms are making my mouth water. And the tomato sauce, heaven at this time of year. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Melissa DATE:12/06/2009 10:04:00 PM Okay, now I envy YOU. I forgot about the palooza and how many jars you had this year. Lucky lady. The only summery thing I still have in my freezer is one bag of Hatch chiles. But I realized just from having those saved that it really is nice to have summer in December. Maybe next summer I can find a partner... ----- --------