EGGPLANT CREATES DRAMA
I thought eggplant hatched ducks when I was a child. Clueless as to when I moved on from that notion, I do still think of ducks every time I cook an eggplant. Whether the duck thing created an aversion to eating it, I do not recall, but I cannot remember a time when I did not eat it.
Go figure, but my children used to freak out when eggplant was on the menu. I do not think it was the duck thing, but I am sure that I old them the story. Not sure if it was the texture, taste or the aroma (although they referred to it as the odor), that filled the kitchen, but they would not touch it. Once they discovered Baba Ganoush, they changed their tune. It is still not their favorite food, but they no longer wince when they smell it cooking, and they seem rather happy when it is in the form of Baba Ganoush. But ever on the search to create new recipes, foods are often served in different forms in the Bleuberet kitchen. When I sliced and fanned out the eggplant for this recipe, there were some oohs and aahs, and it got eaten. Perhaps it was that it looked a bit fun, or maybe they thought it would become Baba Ganoush, whatever it was, they did not turn their noses up, and they ate it.
How do you prepare eggplant before cooking?
Wash the outside, as you would any vegetable. It does not have to be peeled, but it is something that many recipes call for. The skin can be eaten and will break down a bit with cooking.
How do you cook eggplant in the oven?
Roast, bake or grill. Baking takes a little longer, and roasting will make for a slightly more crispy outside. It is alway best to use a bit of oil so that the eggplant does not dry out
How do you bake slices?
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Lightly oil it and lay the slices out in a single layer. Season, salt and pepper on both sides. Bake at 350°F/175C until golden and soft enough to bite. If using eggplant as a pizza topping, this is a great way to prep it. Using straight slices of uncooked eggplant on pizza will not give them enough time to cook and they will leach water onto the pizza. Soggy pizza is gross.
How do you prepare it for grilling?
Sliced, seasoned, oiled so it does not stick to the grill or use a grill basket. Other than a small dice, any way that eggplant is prepared for roasting will work for grilling. Grill times will vary based on size and how they have been sliced. Rounds are fine, but it is much more dramatic to slice them lengthwise (and brings it back to the drama thing).
What does salting eggplant do?
Contrary to popular belief, eggplant does not need to be salted before cooking. Salt can do two things with foods like eggplant. First it can draw out water and make less water leak out when cooking. My experience is that when it is salted it gets a little rubbery and is harder to bite. Personally I find that roasting or grilling helps to draw the water out. Second is that many say that the salt helps to make the eggplant less bitter. If an eggplant is that bitter, it is probably not going to get any less so with salt. Make sure that eggplants are firm to the touch when purchasing and this means that they are more than likely ready to be cooked, and will not be bitter. Old, soft, squishy, probably bitter. Salt it right before cooking and the salt will flavor the eggplant. Salt is a flavor enhancer and it certainly will help here.
Eggplant Dip or commonly known as Baba Ganoush?
One of the most common dips made with eggplant is Baba Ganoush. It is simple to make, has a wonderful smoky taste, and is always a hit at a party. Make enough and it can be the main event. It is tahini sauce, roasted eggplant, lemon juice, EVOO and garlic. Add a touch of salt and pepper to taste and break out the pita or pita chips.
Is eggplant considered to be a super food?
Technically it is not found on the superfood lists, but according to Mercola.com, “eggplants contain fiber, folate, potassium and manganese, as well as vitamins C, K, and B6, phosphorus, copper, thiamin, niacin, magnesium.” Sounds pretty superfood to me. With all these amazing nutrients, this one made the Mending + Healing = Comfort menu.
Other ways to enjoy eggplant:
Eggplant Parmesan from Bon Appétit
Malai Baingan from Two Sleevers
- 4 small or 2 large eggplants, stems intact and sliced
- 4 ounces/120 ml EVOO
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Italian herbs (dried are preferred in this recipe)
Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C
Leave stem end on.
Slice the eggplant lengthwise in thick slices, about 5 or 6 slices if a large eggplant, and 3 or 4 if a small one.
Place on a lined baking pan or sheet pan. Eggplant tends to stick to the pan, so either a foil liner or parchment paper should be used.
Flatten the eggplant a bit so that it fans out, as in the photo above.
Drizzle the oil and rub it all around the skin and in between the slices.
Roast for 25-30 minutes until the flesh is soft and the skin can easily be cut.
We served this with a simple piece of roasted chicken that cooked in a separate pan in the oven at the same time. The chicken was seasoned with sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.