For the eggplant salsa
2 lb. eggplant (about 2 globe or 4 Italian)
Sprigs of thyme
1 cucumber , chopped into chunks
I stick celery chopped into chunks
2 Medium Tomatoes Chopped into chunks
small bunch coriander , leaves roughly chopped
juice 2 limes
4 tbsp olive oil
For the polenta
375g box polenta
1 red chili , deseeded and finely chopped
50g vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese , grated
Wipe the eggplant clean and slice them in half lengthwise. With the tip of a knife, score the flesh deeply in a diamond cross-hatch pattern by making two or three long cuts, cutting at a steep angle, and then rotating the eggplant to make another set of similar cuts.
Press on the edges of the halves to open the cuts and sprinkle salt (1 to 1-1/2 tsp. total for all the halves) over the surface and into the cuts. Set aside, cut side up, for 30 min. Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Over the sink, gently squeeze the eggplant to extract the salty juice and wipe them dry with a paper towel. Brush each half thoroughly with olive oil (about 1 tsp. per half for Italian eggplant, 2 tsp. per half for globe).
Arrange each half, cut side down, on top of a sprig or two of thyme on the baking sheet. Roast for 1 hour. The eggplant will collapse and the bottoms will be a deep brown caramel color.
Let cool considerably before handling, at least 20 min. Gently turn the cut side up. Scoop the flesh from the skin with a spoon and dice. mix together with the celery, cucumber, tomato, coriander, lime and 2 tbsp oil with seasoning
Bring 1.5 litres of water to the boil in a large saucepan. While stirring the water constantly with a wooden spoon, tip in the polenta in a steady stream. Lower the heat so the polenta isn't spluttering too much, then cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 mins.
Meanwhile, line a 40 x 30cm tray with baking parchment. Stir the chili and grated cheese into the polenta with 2 tsp salt, then spoon out onto the tray. Spread to a rough rectangle, making sure the polenta is packed tightly and there are no gaps.
Cover with another sheet of baking parchment and a flat baking tray, then top with some cans or jars to press and flatten the polenta while you chill it in the fridge for at least 2 hrs, or up to a day.
Heat the barbecue (or a griddle pan), trim the edges off the set polenta to neaten, then slice into 12 wedges. Brush both sides of each wedge with a little of the remaining oil and barbecue or griddle for 5 mins on each side until charred and hot through. Serve a couple of wedges per person, topped with a generous spoon of the eggplant salsa.
Recipe adapted from: Good Food
“Salt first for less oily eggplant. Eggplant soaks up oil like a sponge, but you can reduce its ability to absorb oil by salting the cut flesh and letting it sit for 30 min. or more. Then drain, pat dry, and proceed with cooking.”