Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Eggplant ideas

Though we didn't get any eggplant in the box this week, I have a premonition that we will see it again soon. Eggplant is one of those hurdle vegetables... it's hard to figure out how to get through it beyond the basics of grilling, stacking with cheese and tomatoes, maybe frying it up. Here are three recipes that show you a different world for the those orbs, before they go all soft on you.

Smoky Eggplant Puree

Think hummus. Think smooth baba ghanoush. Think wonderful with toasted pita or as a base for roasted lamb.

1 medium sized eggplant or two small (about baseball sized if the small ones)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 clove minced garlic (fresh garlic, not pre-minced)
1 teaspoon Espelette or Aleppo chile flake
½ teaspoon kosher salt

I have always made a similar spread by hand with a knife but this one is simply burred in a food processor making it perhaps the easiest eggplant recipe ever. If you have a gas stove its even easier.

Pierce the eggplants with a fork all over. If you have a gas stove, turn the gas to medium heat on a burner and place the eggplant directly over the flame. Roast for about fifteen minutes until very soft. Remove from heat, cool and set aside. If you don’t have a gas stove you can pierce them and roast the eggplant in a 400f oven for about 15 minutes, or until very tender when pierced with a fork.

Peel away charred skin and lightly shop the eggplant flesh. Place in the food processor with the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, chile flake and kosher salt. Puree until smooth and serve whenever. Yummy.

Marinated Eggplant with Boiled Peanut Sauce
preheat oven to 425F

The sauce is kind of like a tahini sauce for a falafel but so Southern in its roots. The Lebanese know their way around an eggplant so when you are looking for more eggplant ideas think about cookbooks showcasing the Middle East. This would make a great side next to lamb or roasted fish. Some hot sauce, some cold beers, those would be nice too.

Peanut Sauce:

1/4 cup shelled boiled peanuts (canned will work if need be)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
½ teaspoon smoked paprika

Combine the boiled peanuts, garlic, water and lemon juice in a blender and puree until smooth. With the motor still running, slowly pour in the olive oil and then turn off blender and add the parsley and the smoked paprika. Stir to combine and set aside.


1 medium globe eggplant (about 1 pound)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 tablespoons minced oregano
2 tablespoons minced mint
2 tablespoons minced hot pepper
½ teaspoon chile flake
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut the eggplant in half, removing the calyx (the leafy green part where the eggplant was attached to the plant). Cut ½ inch thick slices from each half, resulting in about 24 half moon shapes.

Take a big roasted pan and pour ¼ cup of the olive oil in the pan. Arrange the eggplant slices on the roasting pan and then drizzle with a little more olive oil. Season the eggplant with ½ teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground pepper.
Roast in the oven for 15 minutes until soft in the center but not hammered (restaurant speak for really over-cooked).
Remove from oven but keep in the roasting pan.
In a bowl combine the remaining olive oil, parsley, oregano, mint, sweet pepper, chile flake, lemon juice, the remaining salt and a couple of grinds from the pepper mill. Stir to combine and then spoon evenly over all of the eggplant.

Transfer the eggplant to a serving platter and then drizzle with the peanut sauce.  Serve.

Eggplant Imam Baaldi (Bayildi)

Named for a fainting Imam of Turkish food lore who passed out every time the chefs made him this dish. The aromas just did him in. I guess thus is kind of like eggplant narcolepsy.

Preheat oven to 325F

1 pound Japanese eggplants
1 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 large heirloom tomatoes, peeled and diced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced rosemary
2 tablespoons minced parsley
¼ cup dried currants, or cranberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and then carefully slit them with three parallel slits on the flesh side. The slits should not cut through the skin, just incise into the flesh by about half and inch or so.
Take a large fry pan and place it over medium high heat. Add ¼ cup of the olive oil and when the oil is hot brown off the eggplants on the flesh side for about three minutes, and then turn and brown off the skin side for two minutes. You may have to do this in batches depending on your pan size. Remove the eggplants to a baking dish where they can easily fit in a single layer.
Clean out the pan and place back on the heat. Add another ¼ cup of olive oil to the pan and add the onions. Cook for five minutes until beginning to caramelize. Add the garlic, the tomatoes, cumin, rosemary, parsley, and currants. Cook for five minutes and then pour the onion/ tomato mix into a bowl. Add the lemon juice and sugar to the onion/ tomato mix and then season with the salt.

With the eggplants flesh side up, mound the onion/ tomato mix into the eggplants, making them look quite overflowing. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and then pour ½ cup of water in the bottom of the baking dish. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to one hour and then remove and cool. Better room temperature than hot but you can eat it either way.

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