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.
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!
- 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