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Eggplant Three Ways

Eggplant is one of those special vegetables that transforms completely when you cook it. When raw, it’s bitter and uninviting, but as soon as you cook it, eggplant becomes smoky, rich and totally unique. Since it can be grown all over the world, eggplant has been used in countless cuisines. In France it is made into ratatouille, in Greece it becomes moussaka, in Italy it is deep fried, in India it is found in curries and dalma, in Croatia it is made into salad, and the Chinese have found countless ways to incorporate it into various delicious dishes. Those who love eggplant will never get bored with it as there is always a new and tasty recipe to try. Here I have compiled three of my favorite eggplant recipes. They range from easy to a bit more time-consuming but are all well worth a try and none require a lot of effort or skill. Check out the farmers’ market on the campus center patio this Wednesday between 11:30 am and 1:00 pm to pick up a beautiful organic eggplant for $2 and support United Teen Equality Center Lowell.

Broiled

Source: Nom Nom Paleo

Source: Nom Nom Paleo

This method couldn’t be easier and it also reheats well! Cut the eggplant into discs just under half an inch thick. Put them on a platter and drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to your liking and let it soak for a bit. You can also experiment with red pepper flakes, garlic or whatever you happen to have in the kitchen. When you’re ready to cook, put the eggplant on a broiler pan and broil on high for ten minutes or until dark brown, turning the eggplant over about halfway through the process.

Szechwan Style Eggplant Stir Fry

Source: Tasty Kitchen

Source: Tasty Kitchen

Don’t be scared off by the large ingredient list on this recipe–it isn’t difficult and the cook time is only five minutes! This recipe comes from Tyler Florence of the Food Network.

Ingredients

  • 5 Asian eggplants, about 2 pounds
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts, sliced on a diagonal
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 fresh red chile, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  • Thai holy basil and fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Directions

Halve the eggplant lengthwise and slice into inch-thick wedges. Heat your wok (or the deepest frying pan you have) and add the oils. When you see smoke, sear eggplant for three minutes. Season with salt and pepper and place the eggplant aside so you can do another batch. When all of your eggplant is cooked and set aside, add the green onions, ginger, garlic and chile and stir fry until fragrant. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and cornstarch in a bowl and pour into the pan with the broth. Cook until the sauce is thick and then return the eggplant to your pan and toss quickly until it is saturated. Serve garnished with sesame seeds, Thai basil and cilantro.

Baba Ghanoush

Source: Bon Appetit

Source: Bon Appetit

A smoky and delicious dish popular in many Middle Eastern countries, baba ghanoush calls for the most prep work of the recipes here but certainly doesn’t require expert cooking skills. There are thousands of recipes out there, but I like this one from Bon Appétit.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon finely grated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Roast eggplants on a baking sheet in the middle of the oven at 450°. Turn every fifteen minutes for an hour and then let cool. Scoop out the flesh and drain in a colander, stirring occasionally for thirty minutes. In a bowl, mash the eggplants and stir in all other ingredients before seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with warm pita bread.

-Joyce Harduvel

Cover photo source.

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