Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes:
3 medium eggplants, thinly sliced into 5mm thick rounds
2x punnets NZ Hot House strawberry cherry tomatoes, cut in half
4 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
Handful of fresh thyme sprigs left whole
2 medium red chilli, thinly sliced (remove seeds if desired)
1 Tbsp Manuka honey
30g fresh basil leaves
30g Parmesan, finely grated
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 large slices fresh focaccia bread (about 600g)
100g soft goats cheese
Thyme leaves, to garnish
Preheat your oven to 200°C fan bake.
Prep eggplant: Thinly slice eggplants into rounds and add to a large bowl. Drizzle with about 3 Tbsp olive oil and toss eggplant until well coated in oil. Season generously with salt and toss again. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Arrange eggplant slices on the lined oven tray so the slices don’t overlap. Set aside.
Prep tomatoes: Add cherry tomatoes to a medium roasted dish, along with garlic, thyme sprigs, chilli and honey. Drizzle generously with olive oil, then season well with salt and pepper.
Roast eggplant on the lower-middle oven rack for about 20-25 minutes until very golden brown and tender. Roast the cherry tomatoes on the upper-middle oven rack for about 30-35 minutes, until soft, jammy and starting to caramelize. Set both aside to cool at room temperature.
Basil Oil: Place basil in a heat-proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 10 seconds, then drain through a sieve. Rinse with cold running water until the basil is completely cooled. Squeeze out excess liquid from the basil with a clean tea towel. In a mini food processor, blitz the blanched basil, Parmesan, lemon juice and 2 Tbsp of olive oil together until it forms a smooth paste. Stir through remaining olive oil and set aside to serve.
Just before serving, warm focaccia in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Top the warmed focaccia slices with the eggplant, tomatoes + juices, basil oil, crumbled goat's cheese, a few thyme leaves and a pinch of chilli flakes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe Credit: Melies Kitchen