Eggplant

eggplantI know, you think you hate it. Maybe you really do, but sometimes it’s just that we don’t really know how to prepare it. I used to be a hater. Now I am a lover.

You don’t need ten recipes for eggplant. You just need one or two that work. That’s true for most things. So try these, and when you find one you like, keep it.

When buying eggplant, you want to buy the one that is firm to the touch, heavier than it looks, dark purple, with a dark green end. By firm, I don’t mean hard as a rock, just that it shouldn’t feel squishy. A tiny bit of gift is okay.

Before cooking it (unless you’re baking it almost whole), cut it up, sprinkle with salt, press with a plate, or soak in salt water and then press- this helps remove the bitterness.

Cooking it until it is soft, even to the point of being able to cream it, will also remove the bitterness. If you associate eggplant with bitter, you probably had some that wasn’t cooked nearly long enough.

  • Eggplant country salad– made by baking the eggplant and scooping out the innards.
  • Dice the eggplant, soak it in salt water for an hour or two, drain well, press, and then: have on shish-ka-bobs, or use in roasted vegetables.
  • Slice in rounds. Soak in salted water for a few hours, drain, press. Brush with oil and sprinkle with Italian style herbs (parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic). Place under broiler just until golden brown. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if you have it.
  • Make this main dish eggplant meal using leftover fried rice or risotto, or any rice or grain based side dish:

Small eggplant, 1 for every 2-3 people you’ll be serving

Slice each eggplant in half lengthwise. Cut two deep lengthwise slits into the flesh on the flat side of each half, cutting down to the skin but not through it. On the other, uncut, rounded side, slice a very thin strip off- just enough so that later when you need to, you can set the eggplant down on the skin side and it will sit flat.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and oil enough baking dishes for all the eggplant.

Heat some oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet and saute the eggplant halves, flat/flesh-side down, for five minutes. Pour in just enough water to cover the bottom of the skillet and continue to cook for 5 minutes, or until water has evaporated. Remove from heat, let the eggplants cool until you can handle them.
Spread each slit apart, cutting out a little flesh if it won’t give, and fill each slit with your leftover risotto (or fried rice, or pilaf, or whatever you have)- at least 2 tablespoons worth, but more if you can stuff it in. The filling can flow out of the slits and you can top the eggplant with what remains. Place the eggplant halves in the prepared baking dish, cut side up, rounded side down. Cover well and bake 45 minutes, or until the eggplants are tender.

Serve on a platter, garnished with parsley and lemon wedges.

  • Eggplant Parmigiana– Mmmmm.
  • eggplantI make a sandwich and cracker spread something like this one, except I don’t use capers or anchovies, I just use whatever olives we have on hand, and I do add a lot of garlic to the saute step.  LOTS of garlic.  If you make it, add more garlic than you think is reasonable, and then add at least four more cloves to that, and that should just about be enough.
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