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Finally Coming Around
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Finally Coming Around

I have to be honest. I have not been a big “fan” of eggplant in the past. This coming from the girl that rarely meets a vegetable that she doesn’t like… there was a particular restaurant experience that sticks out in my mind. We were at an Italian chain restaurant (should’ve known right then, huh?) and I ordered the Eggplant Parmesan. Disclaimer: I am not the type to send food back. But THIS was terrible. It was a spongy cold mess. I am not sure that the eggplant had even been put in the oven, because the texture was so awful. This was not a case of putting cheese on something to make it taste better – it just got worse with more Parmesan.  I ended up getting a salad, and in turn, a real stigma against the aubergine.  For years, I steered clear.  Earlier in the spring when we were looking at seeds and plants at the nursery, Kris wanted to try it in the garden. I figured that if it was cooked well, it would be edible. But, I didn’t expect to like it.

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As things often come to pass, one of our best garden successes this season has been the eggplant. When we pick one (or three!) they are almost instantly replaced.   Because of this glut of eggplants, we have had to get creative with recipes.  We were adding them to kabobs on the grill, dicing them into chili – basically places where it took on the flavor of the things around them.

With the advice of Jenna, I decided to try an eggplant dish at one of our favorite Indian places.  And SURPRISE!  I really liked it!  In true form, when we like something, we try to recreate it at home.  So, while I was in San Francisco last week, Kris perfected a Baingain Bharta recipe and modified it a bit to fit in with my diet (vegan with no sugars and gluten – in this case, it was as simple as subbing silken tofu for the yogurt).  So delicious and highly recommended!

…and the eggplants continue to grow at a rapid pace.  Today, we tried our hand at Baba Ghanoush.  Yep, we will definitely be making this one again!


Baba Ghanoush*

  • 1 large eggplant / 2 medium
  • 1/4 cup tahini, more as needed
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 cup fresh lemon juice, more as needed
  • 1 pinch ground cumin
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup brine-cured olives, such as kalamata

It is simple to prepare the eggplants on a grill or in the oven. With respect to time, we decided to use the broiler. We placed 2 medium eggplants (with skins) on a baking sheet and put them in the broiler. We turned them over after 5-6 minutes, and again after another 5-6 minutes and punctured their skin to test the softness. Continue to turn until eggplant can easily be punctured and/or mashed with a fork.

Prepare a small bowl of tepid water and put eggplant directly from oven into the bowl (enough water to submerge fruit). Wait for 1-2 minutes, cut off the stem, and the purple/black skin should easily strip away. Once you have removed the skin, cut into medium slices and place in blender. (If you prefer a thicker consistency, you can also mash the eggplant with a fork.) Blend on low speed for 10 seconds and check consistency. You can decide how creamy or thick you would like it. If blender needs liquid to churn properly, you can add the lemon juice and/or olive oil.

Scoop mixture into a mixing bowl and add the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, and minced garlic. Mix well and season with salt to taste. If garlic is overwhelming, you can add more lemon or tahini to tone it down. Transfer to a serving dish and smooth with the back of a spoon. Add olives and parsley as garnish, and drizzle with olive oil.  Serves 6 to 8.

*Adapted and modified from this Baba Ghanoush recipe

Kris took most of the dip to a football party at his brother’s house, but he left some for me to eat too – it was so delicious on top of the fresh garden salad.  Eggplant, cucumber, and tomatoes all from my own backyard!



So, yes, I think I have finally come around to eggplants :)

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56 Responses

  1. Anna

    It looks wonderful – thanks for the recipe! I love aubergine, but really not when it’s soaked in oil as it so often seems to be. I’ll definitely be giving this dip a go!

  2. Meghan

    I’m in the same boat with you on eggplant–it isn’t my favorite, and if poorly cooked it is awful. However, there are certain times when it can be really excellent. My favorite eggplant recipe is something I ate in Morocco called Zaalouk. It can be eaten cold or warm, and usually is served with bread (though I’m sure you can come up with many other ways to eat it. It is a mash or puree with roasted eggplants, tomato, garlic, vinegar, parsley and spices. Here’s one recipe I found that looks pretty good, though I’m sure you’ll find many other variations online: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8258115@N08/820202425/

  3. Susan

    Oh, that eggplant looks delicious, and this post reminds me of Love in the Time of Cholera and Fermina Daza’s lifelong hatred of eggplant until she hit a turning point just like you did.

  4. Heidi

    What a doll for providing the recipe!!!! I haven’t eat much eggplant either but I adore store bought Baba Ghanoush. I’ll brave making it myself soon.

    Love the photos, as usual.

  5. Heather

    I’d say that ‘spongy cold mess’ about sums up bad eggplant dishes! I learned while living in Morocco to always salt it and let it sweat, and now I really love to prepare it whenever I have a little extra time.

  6. Kim

    I hear you on the eggplant fear and trepidation. I really like it as long as it’s well-cooked. I think I’m gonna try your recipes. I’m looking to bring some different veggies into my life and eggplant is one of the obvious choices that I keep shying away from. Besides they’re so very beautiful.

    Also, I do hope you’ll keep us posted on the vegan diet, and how leaving off sugars and gluten is making you feel.

  7. Christine

    My first eggplant experience I was served a very bitter eggplant that should have soaked in saltwater for awhile. Finally I’m starting to come around. They’re just too pretty to dismiss! Your salad looks beautiful.

    This is a very not-healthy way to eat eggplant (and it has sugar and flour), but eggplant is very good lightly fried served with a little honey or powdered sugar.

    I’m off sugar and gluten at the moment, too. I am feeling great!

  8. k

    Doesn’t it just make you feel good when you eat things you’ve grown yourself? I know I’m loving it. Our eggplants aren’t doing as well as yours, but there are a couple which will be ready to eat soon.

  9. jodi

    Eggplant is just too easy to cook poorly, and when poorly cooked it’s slimy and gross. I eat eggplant all the time, pretty much every week, but will only eat it two ways: as babaghanoush or pickled (recipe, straight from an Italian mom, is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jodigreen/320753765/ and aside from what my friend’s mom wrote down for me I also add some hot pepper flakes to each jar). Despite the fact that I find eggplant gross when cooked, these here are two of my favourite foods.e Try your babaghanoush sometime sprinkled with sumac and pomegranate seeds, it’s amazing.

  10. Tina

    Ok, I’m a mild fan of eggplant, but hearing you talk of it and seeing those pictures makes me want to rush out and buy one and cook it up right now! Beautiful photos and web site. I just found you!

    Are you doing the Socktoberfest again this year??? I hope so! I’ll be watching.

  11. sprite

    We’ll be having some eggplant tonight, too, since one of the other community gardeners offered me one of his when I stopped to pick my tomatoes and beans this afternoon.

    I have a vegan eggplant dish Rudi’s mother brought over from Russia. She calls it eggplant puckey, but it’s also known as “poor man’s caviar.” I’d be happy to share if you’d like to try it.

  12. chris

    Mmmmm, eggplant! Well, eggplant cooked well, that is — I’m with everyone else, eggplant can be ruined easily. I did it myself last week with some beautiful eggplants from the farmers market . . . I forgot to sweat them, and I thought since they were tiny and tender that they didn’t need to be peeled — BIG mistake! But an eggplant done well is a wonder to behold.

    Funny that it’s doing so well in your garden . . . we have a similar situation with our canteloupe. I hate the stuff, my husband wanted to plant it, and it’s doing fabulously. I only hope that I find it edible if I grew it myself!

  13. lifexhistory

    Another thing that really helps with eggplant for baba ganoush is to mash it with a fork in a colander over the sink. The juices, which make it more bitter, stream right out of the eggplant and then you can blend it more smoothly if you like or just mix the mashed eggplant with the other ingredients for a chunkier version.

  14. t does wool

    I must say this looks fabulous,Lolly…I will have to try it…and soon!

  15. (formerly)no-blog-rachel

    Love, love, love eggplant! And I’m glad you now like it too (I used to be that way about mushrooms).

    Thanks for the recipe – one of my favorite ways to eat it is very simple – slice and sprinkle with salt, and let sit (I put a weight on top sometimes – a plate with a can of food on it – and a clean towel underneath to absorb the moisture). Rinse, and brush with olive oil. Grill until tender all the way through. It’s wonderful!

    On the rare occasion that I make eggplant parmesan, I use this grilling method rather than breading/frying – it saves mess and a ton of calories.

  16. Nell

    That looks delicious! I’ll have to try it.

  17. Harpa J

    Mmmm – this sounds and looks so delicious! Now if the only shop in the village carried eggplants – AND my family could be persuaded to eat them – well I can only dream…

  18. knittyvritti

    get yourself a great ratatouille recipe before the eggplant runs out. and caponata, and all kinds of other yummy eggplant spreads. you can also make some great stacked vegetable tortes with eggplant—the list goes on and on…enjoy

  19. gleek

    i love the baba! and eggplant is generally ok with me except that i really don’t like the skins. take the skins off and i like it grilled, baked, fried, or pureed. yum!

  20. Rasa Chambers

    Those pictures are making me hungry!! Thanks for the recipe!

  21. Christine

    Me again! I was catching up on Smitten Kitchen this evening and ran across this recipe for marinated eggplant with capers and mint. I’ll have to try it soon – it sounds delicious and healthy.

  22. TrishD in MD

    Hi there…

    I LOVE eggplant!

    Two things you can do that I love…

    Slice them into somewhat thin rounds and lay them flat on a cookie sheet with cooking spray (or whatever you prefer). Sprinkle them with lemon pepper or garlic and herb or whatever seasoning is your favorite and just bake until the insides are soft and the skins are crispy.

    Slice them rather thickly and roll the rounds in bread crumbs. Top with tomato sauce and cheese–eggplant pizzas! Is there something you can substitute for the bread crumbs to give it a crusty coating? I don’t have an answer there. Or you could leave the coating off altogether and it would be more like the eggplant parmigiana. Most places bread and fry their eggplant before making the parmigiana, but I don’t usually do this.

    And… Ratatouille? Eggplant, tomatoes, squashes, green peppers, onions, with italian seasoning all simmered on the stove. Yum.

    Oh man! Now my mouth is watering…


  23. Meg

    I’ve never been a fan of eggplant, but I’m working my way around to it. Your post may have given me the push I need to give them another go!

  24. carrie m

    so funny — i bought an eggplant today and wasn’t sure what to do with it. i think i have my answer. i hope all is well with you, lolly!!

  25. michal

    he he, i’m such a picky eater myself, i refused to touch eggplant for years (i’m a five year old when it comes to some vegetables. ask my husband…). then in one year i was put in two separate situations when i HAD to eat eggplant or i’d smash someone’s ego (one of them being a gigantic chef who was a friend of my then boss, the other dear friends who’ve been trying really hard to feed vegetarian me on a budget for a week). lo and behold – i fell in love with eggplant (well, most eggplant dishes. let’s not push it, shell we?), and it’s one of my favorite vegetables nowadays.
    strangely enough, i had the exact same story with zucchinis…

  26. erin

    I lurve eggplants. My mum has this way of slicing an eggplant in half lengthwise, then grilling it. After that we eat with it a cilli sambal yum yum.

  27. Susanne

    I agree, the aubergine does take on alot of the flavours. The other reason I like it, is that it doesn’t reduce down to a soggy mess like say zucchinni (sp?). It holds its shape and is really nice in say a vegetarian chili or ratatouille. Your photos are gorg!!

  28. Zarah

    I also don’t like eggplant… but maybe I should give it another try! =)

  29. Leslie

    That looks YUM-MY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Alexandra

    There’s a recipe wich is turkish I think called Imam bayildi (~Imam faints) – it’s delicious. It’s prepared with paprika, tomatoes and raisins. It’s served with a garlic- yoghurt. Even our girls like it! Give it a try.

  31. tiennie

    Your post is so delicious – I could lick my screen. Yum!

  32. Knit Nurse

    You must feel so proud to have grown all that stuff yourself! And the aubergine dip does look wonderful..

  33. Brittany

    I’ve really warmed up to eggplant since moving to China. They do a great dish here. They fry it up with some potatoes and some green peppers. Yum.

    The recipe looks delish. Am saving it for when I get the time to cook! ;)

  34. Mom

    Beautiful salad, Lollygirl!

  35. stacey

    Thanks for the recipes! I’ll be making both of these this week! I have eggplant from the CSA along with a TON from the garden! I really love the variety I have “Hansel” – it is smaller Japanese type, and seems a lot firmer and tastier than the normal bigger ones. You can also grow it in a pot, which is what I plan to do next year!

  36. Jewel

    Thanks for the recipes! I love eggplant we grow it in our garden each year. If its the resturant that I’m thinking of the eggplant isn’t very good.

  37. mai

    YUM! that looks delicious. and wow, those eggplants look amazing! your garden must be thriving!

  38. Martha H

    Baba Ghanoush is a favorite in our household. Also, a pasta sauce recipe with eggplant that I cannot seem to find right now. I think it was from a Cooking Light issue a couple years ago.

    And lastly, maybe this will finally lure you to SSK…Adega has the best, best, bestest eggplant fries anywhere!

  39. Steph

    I had never eaten eggplant before I grew it in my garden this summer. It went crazy and produced so much fruit that I had no idea what to do with it. Now I love it! After all, there is often no better produce than that which comes from one’s own garden. Thanks for the recipe!

  40. AmyDe

    That’s wonderful. I’ve never tried eggplant for many of the same reasons you didn’t like it at first. I know it can be fabulous when prepared properly, but when it’s bad IT’S BAD so I’ve steered clear. Maybe I’ll give it a whirl sometime soon. I’ve seen a roasted vegetable dish using the tiny chinese eggplants – that sounds like a good place to start. Thanks for sharing and your garden harvest look wonderful!

  41. Jenna

    Ha ha! My plan has worked and I’ve gotten you onto the eggplant bandwagon. It’s so unfathomable to me that you previously didn’t like them, as they’re absolutely one of my favorite veggies. Glad that some good recipes have changed your mind.

    Thanks so much for sharing the Bhaigan recipe! I’m anxious to try it after you mentioned Kris’ love for it. Mmmmm, I also LOVE baba.

  42. Cassy

    Yea! I’ve been wanting to make babaganoush. Thanks for the recipe.

  43. cici

    I love Baba Ghanoush and never thought of making it.. I will have to try it now for sure. Thanks. It is a challenge finding good things to eat. My life has been easier since I found out that wheat and gluten is bad for me. Thank goodness for Whole Foods Market.:D

  44. Karen

    Well, that looks yummy! I’ve never been fond of eggplant either, but have only tried it a couple of times in restaurants. One of those times is when I was a kid. I’ve never tried cooking it myself though.

  45. Josiane

    Thanks a lot, Lolly, for sharing these recipes! It seems like they’ll be great additions to my repertoire!

  46. Moni

    good lord that looks good! I’m printing this up and trying it!

  47. lucy

    Aubergines are my top favourite vegetable anyway cooked. I’ll check out the recipe to try sometime before the season is over. Thanks for sharing it!

  48. caroline

    That baingan bharta looks amazing and I will definitely be trying it! I’ve been meaning to make baba ghanouj for some time now (I bought an eggplant for it last week, but it ended up going into a lentil salad instead.) I’d like to omit the tahini to make it less fattening; do you think some yogurt and lemon juice would be a good substitute?

  49. SierraMoon

    I had to smile when I read your post because I was not an eggplant fan either… until I tried it the “Morroccan way” (as a kind of dip) which is more or less similar to the recipe you tried, excepted for : no tahini and olives, but garlic instead. yum yum !

  50. SierraMoon

    oops I missed the garlic. therefore it ‘s very similar… and very tasty/good !!!

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