Whenever I fire up the grill, I like to throw a big eggplant on the side to cook slowly alongside my main meats. It takes some time, but will ultimately give way to smoky, creamy goodness. Whipping ricotta (like BelGioioso’s Ricotta con Latte®) is a surprisingly effortless trick that takes this dish to the next level, with added crunch-factor from roasted pistachios and a dusting of sumac for citrusy brightness. Serve it as an appetizer with bread or pita, or as a vegetable side with dinner—I guarantee you won’t be able to stop scooping it up! —Irene Yoo
Prepare the grill at medium-low heat (or preheat your oven to 450°F). Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, and cover all over with vegetable oil. Sprinkle the cut sides with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Grill the eggplant halves cut-side down for 45 minutes (or cut-side up in the oven), until well browned and softened; the eggplant should be easily pierced with a knife.
While the eggplant is grilling, whip the ricotta with a hand mixer for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy (almost like whipped cream). Add in the lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon salt, and mix to combine. Set aside.
Once the eggplant is cool enough to handle, cut it into ½-inch slices.
To serve, spoon the whipped ricotta on a large serving platter and spread it around with the back of a spoon, then sprinkle with the grated Romano cheese. Top with eggplant slices. Sprinkle with sumac and chopped pistachios, and enjoy.
Irene runs a monthly Brooklyn-based pop-up series called Yooeating, with new takes on Korean home cooking, street food, and drinking culture by pairing with other culinary cuisines that feel like home.