Eggplant. Love it or Leave it!
I am learning to love it. The name eggplant, rather than its true name aubergine, refers to the fruits of some 18th century European cultivars which were yellow or white and resembled goose or hen’s eggs.
The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. Traditionally, recipes suggest salting, rinsing and draining of the sliced fruit to soften it and to reduce the amount of fat absorbed during cooking, but mainly to remove the bitterness. Some modern varieties – including those large, purple varieties do not need this treatment. The fruit is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, allowing for very rich dishes, but the salting process will reduce the amount of oil absorbed. The fruit flesh is smooth and the many seeds are soft and edible along with the rest of the fruit. The thin skin is also edible, so peeling is not required.
It may also be roasted in its skin until charred, so the pulp can be removed and blended with other ingredients, such as lemon, tahini, and garlic, as in the Middle Eastern dish Baba Ghanoush and the similar Greek dish Melitzanosalata. Grilled, mashed and mixed with onion, tomato and spices makes an Indian dish called Baingan Ka Bhartha or Gojju, as well in chutneys, and curries. A mix of roasted eggplant, roasted red peppers, chopped onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, celery and spices is called Zacusca or Ajvar in the Balkan countries. The fruit can also be stuffed with meat, rice or other fillings and then baked. It can also be found in Chinese cuisine, braised, stewed, steamed, or stuffed.
This recipe was handed down to me from the Amish, who have been enjoying Eggplant for many years. Some prefer eat eggplant over any other vegetable out there.
- 1 Eggplant
- 1 Jalapeño Pepper
- 2 Eggs, Farm Fresh of course
- salt as desired
Peel the eggplant and slice into thin 1/8 inch disks. Crack the two eggs into a soup plate. Take the seeds out of the jalapeño pepper and grate approximately one half of it. Add to the eggs. Thicken with flour until you have a thin batter. Dip the sliced eggplant into the batter and fry until crisp in olive oil. Enjoy them with homemade bread, butter and tomatoes. For a variation, replace the eggs with olive oil, omit the flour and grill.
A Note From Ana: That eggplant recipe is fantastic!!!!! Add a little fresh basil when it’s done for another level of flavour!
Last summer I experimented with and enjoyed an Eggplant Dip or Baba Ghanoush https://triplecordcsaorganicproduce.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/roasted-eggplant-and-garlic-dip/
BAKED ORZO WITH EGGPLANT AND MOZZARELLA
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen (www.smittenkitchen.com) Serves 4
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch diced
- Salt and black pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch diced
- 1 celery stalk, in a 1/4-inch diced
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 ounces orzo, a rice-shaped pasta, rinsed
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1 ½ cups vegetable stock
- 1 to 3 Tbs fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest or more to taste
- 4 ounces mozzarella, firmer is better here, cut into 1/3-inch dice
- 1 ½ ounces parmesan, grated
- 3 medium tomatoes, diced
Sprinkle eggplant generously with salt and let it drain in a colander for 30 minutes, rinse it well and pat it dry on towels.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil and once the oil is shimmering, add the eggplant. Fry for 8 minutes, stirring pieces occasionally. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer them to paper towels to drain. Add celery and carrots to remaining oil and cook for 3 minutes before adding onion and garlic. Cook together for 5 more minutes on medium heat. Stir in the orzo and tomato paste and cook for two minutes more. Off the heat, add the oregano, mozzarella, parmesan, tomatoes, fried eggplant, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon table salt, many grinds of black pepper and the stock and mix well.
Transfer mixture to an 8×11-inch (about 2 quarts) ovenproof baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes, then bake 20 minutes without the foil. (You can increase the ration of foil-on to foil-off time if you don’t like a crunchy pasta lid.) Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Eggplant, Love it or Leave it, You Decide!