How to Cook and Use Eggplant

How to Cook and Use Eggplant

Oh Lisa, an eggplant virgin? You poor dear. A little late, but all the same:

Remember: eggplant can be horribly bitter, so usually you need to cut it up (I slice thickly), put LOTS of salt on each slice (I stack 'em in a colander) and let them sit and draw out the bitter juices for a while (15-30 minutes).

I NEVER fry eggplant, because they will always absorb MORE oil, no matter how much you give them. After they've released the juice, rinse them very well, lay them on a well-oiled (olive) cookie sheet, brush the tops with a bit more oil and bake at 350°F-400°F until they're done. Umm, half an hour? I never time it, but they should be soft to the touch.

At this point, they can be added to already-cooked pasta sauces, or chinesey-type dishes (mmm, eggplant in garlic sauce), and so on. I like to marinate them in a tasty vinaigrette for a few days and eat them on dense multi-grain bread with sprouts as a tasty sandwich. Or toss them into a salad.

A couple of days ago I put a whole, washed eggplant into an extremely hot oven, turning it every 10 minutes or so until the skin was completely charred. Using two forks, I removed all the skin and cut off the stem/cap part (umm, I used a knife for that part). I mashed the flesh with garlic, finely chopped onion, lemon juice, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, crushed red peppers and salt. Fabulous dip/sandwich spread. If you add tahini (sesame paste) to it (just a few tablespoons), it magically becomes babagnoush, which is scooped up and eaten via torn-off bits of fresh pita.

Eggplant (sliced and baked as above) is also an integral layer of moussaka, very loosely the Greek version of shepherd's pie: ground meat (usually lamb) flavoured with tomato and some "sweet" spices: cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, topped with eggplant and bechamel sauce, and baked. Yummy.

Eggplant also belongs in ratatouille and tourlou, approximately the same things, one from Italy, the other from Turkey/Armenia/Greece, more or less: tomatoes, onions, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and various herbs. Good as a side dish or rice/pasta topper.

Big eggplant fan here.



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