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Marissa Lingen

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Produce trio: eggplant [Sep. 9th, 2013|10:41 am]
Marissa Lingen
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I love eggplant. Really really really. It is good in so many things! Eggplant parmesan! Eggplant in garlic sauce! Ratatouille! So many lovely things to do with eggplant! So here are some.


1. Roasted eggplant. Very simple, very good. Cut off the top, whack it in half, oil each cut side as minimally as possible (basically so as to keep it from sticking). Put in a moderate oven (that’s 350 F) for half an hour or so. Timing will vary based on the size of your eggplant. Drizzle with lemon juice, sprinkle with sea salt, eat. Yum. My brother said, “I tried that, but the insides got all slumpy.” Yes! Slumpy insides are the best! So good. This is best with small eggplants. The tiny ones will do nicely, or the round green stripey ones. The long ones are fine too. But with the great big ones, the most common ones to find in American supermarkets, you get a lot of slumpy per unit slightly-crispy skin.


2. Eggplant dips. This is best with large eggplants for exactly the reason above: lot of slumpy per unit slightly-crispy skin. You may have to roast them a few minutes longer, but roast as above. Then scoop out the insides and mash them up with a fork. Then add the spicing you like: olive oil and roasted garlic is nice, or lime juice and chopped cilantro. I’m going to try sage butter today and let you know, but I hardly see how it could go wrong, because sage butter makes everything better. (Edited to add: I am right, sage butter does make everything better. It was lovely.) A variation on the roasted garlic version, with tahini and lemon juice, makes baba ghanouj, and that’s a lovely thing to do, but if you don’t have tahini, you can still have good eggplant dip. This is good for chips or crackers or as a sandwich spread base or what have you. For example you could spread the lime and cilantro eggplant dip on a good baguette and then top it with slices of avocado and sweet bell pepper and a soft white cheese.


(I saw a recipe that advised that you cut the eggplant into cubes to roast it. I do not recommend this for eggplant dip. It is a perfectly fine way to get your roasted eggplant fix from a big eggplant, but the cubes will form edges that do not want to be mashed with a fork nor with a food processor nor noffing. At least mine did. They were perfectly nice roasted eggplant cubes, but what I wanted was the tangy limey dip stuff.)


3. Fried green eggplants. This is a recent invention of Timprov’s. He takes a tablespoon or so of bacon grease, although if we hadn’t made any bacon lately I daresay it would work with other fats. He slices up the lovely little round green stripey eggplants into fairly thin slices but not paper thin, and he fries them up in the bacon grease. Then he tops steaks with them. This is good. I am a person who needs something else on a steak to make it tasty (I’m anemic and the worst carnivore ever, basically), and we are out of dates at the moment, but fried green eggplants are at least as good as sauteed mushrooms. Possibly better.


I also like moussaka, but I make it differently every time, so I have a hard time telling you how to do it from that. Oh, and I also like roasted eggplants tossed with rice vinegar and peanut oil and chopped cilantro and roasted peanuts and halved cherry tomatoes and the tiniest dash of chili oil. That’s good stuff. That’s another thing you want little eggplants for.


I do like the big eggplants, but the little ones are so handy.




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Comments:
[User Picture]From: susandennis
2013-09-09 04:01 pm (UTC)
Want my eggplant story? I thought so...

When I was a kid, my dad was a traveling salesman. We lived in North Carolina and he came home from a trip to New York City and described these great eggplant 'fries' he had had. Mom figured it out from his description and it became a family favorite served at all special family dinners (birthdays, etc) and in between.

The eggplant is cut like fries and soaked in water and ice while the oil gets hot and then they are deep fried until they are crispy tan/brown. Sooooooo good.

Cut to 25 years later. Mom and Dad were in New York City and went back to that restaurant so excited to get the authentic original 'mother' dish. They couldn't find it on the menu so asked the waiter. The waiter had never heard of it and went back to ask the chef who had been there for more than 30 years and he'd never heard of it but came out to talk to Mom and Dad out of curiosity. "We've never had eggplant on the menu but we do have fry-cut zucchini..."

Mom tried that at home. It was a fail. The eggplant fries reigned supreme.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-09-09 04:31 pm (UTC)
That's lovely. I'm so glad you told it.

Zucchini, fie. Zucchini are on my list of things to do future "produce trio" entries on, but I am not generally keen. Winter squash beats summer squash any day. (Just like winter beats summer! Ahem. Just me. Okay. Anyway.)
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[User Picture]From: rosefox
2013-09-10 01:48 am (UTC)
I'll guest-host for zucchini! Meanwhile, you:eggplant::me:celery and you:celery::me:eggplant.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-09-10 01:53 am (UTC)
We should go out for crudites! We could eat all the other person's nibblies and not feel a twinge of guilt for eating all the "good stuff"!
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[User Picture]From: rosefox
2013-09-10 01:57 am (UTC)
If only your travels ever took you here or mine took me there! But someday, someday...
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-09-10 02:02 am (UTC)
Seriously someday! Or else a con in a common location. I don't know how much you intend to travel for conventions in the next few years, but I also don't know how much I intend to travel for conventions in the next few years, so hey, it all works out.
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[User Picture]From: rosefox
2013-09-10 02:47 am (UTC)
Loncon and Readercon next year. After that, there will be a baby, which I expect will curtail travel a bit.
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[User Picture]From: houseboatonstyx
2013-09-09 04:11 pm (UTC)
My favorite quick eggplant meal is this. Tl;dr: pretend it's an English muffin.

Heat oil in a glass skillet with cumin, caraway, whatever.
Put in a slice (1/2 inch?) from a big purple eggplant.
While it sears (keeping firm), swish some other cut vegs in the other part of the skillet: tomato, greens, etc.
Turn the eggplant slice. While the new side sears, pile the other vegs on top. Put some cheese on top of that.
Put the skillet under the broiler to melt the cheese. Or turn the oven on Bake if the eggplant is too firm for you.

Garnish with yogurt is good. Also black sesame.
Wiping the skillet with leftover rice is good, or kedgeree, or pilaf.

(A lazy cook alone in the house, can then set the glass skillet straight on the table and eat straight from it, while it keeps everything hot.)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-09-09 04:30 pm (UTC)
Ah! That's why glass: you mean oven-safe! Okay then. Our oven-safe skillet is not glass, and in fact we don't have a glass skillet, but I could totally do this. Hurrah. Sounds lovely.
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From: stfg
2013-09-09 04:35 pm (UTC)
I have a recipe for eggplant that is not particularly healthy, but is very tasty.

Thinly slice the egglant into rounds. Spread mayonnaise on both sides of each eggplant slice, then dip in parmesan cheese. The mayonnaise will make the cheese stick. Broil the slices until cheese is brown, then flip the slices and broil the other side. Put aluminum foil in your broiler first so the broiler does not get messy from the cheese and mayo.

Smaller diameter slices work better than bigger ones because they are less soggy, but this recipe does still work pretty well with the big slices.
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[User Picture]From: houseboatonstyx
2013-09-09 05:02 pm (UTC)
Sounds great though piddly. I'd try a big slice, nuked for a minute ot two to remove the sogginess.

ETA: Wow, that came out practically addictive!

I used one big slice of a big purple globe. Forgot to nuke it or to do both sides. Just did one side (with cheddar only). Broiled that one side (on 'hot dog' setting but cut it off sooner).

Texture of the bottom was a little floppy (like a flour tortilla) but not soggy; dry to the touch so non-messy finger food. Juicy when chewed. Great combination of tastes.

A platter of these (served like nachos grande) might make an entree if not too rich; I may have put the mayo on too thick. Would be good with a side dish of greens, sauteed spinich or such.

Edited at 2013-09-10 01:42 am (UTC)
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From: stfg
2013-09-10 08:33 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you like it! I had not previously considered using cheddar cheese, but that sounds tasty.
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[User Picture]From: ellarien
2013-09-09 05:00 pm (UTC)
This is utterly heretical, I know, but one of my favourite things to do with eggplant, back when I had a freezer, was this: put a sliced banana, a cup or so of frozen mixed berries, and a cup of cubed eggplant in a microwave-safe dish. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to taste. Cover and heat until the eggplant is soft (which takes a bit longer than just thawing the berries). Eat hot, topped with whipped cream.

I also like it in chicken and mushroom casserole.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-09-09 05:09 pm (UTC)
We are all for unusual combinations here, as long as they're good unusual combinations.
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From: sheff_dogs
2013-09-09 05:02 pm (UTC)
If you love aubergines, but really have to cut down or even eliminate fat this works surprisingly well. Also as a prelude to making dips rather than roasting.

Cube aubergine, add finely chopped garlic, put in a covered bowl and microwave until soft. I will happily eat this on toast, as a side or as mentioned use as the basis of dips.
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[User Picture]From: elsmi
2013-09-09 05:21 pm (UTC)
When you have the means, the best way to roast eggplant is to wash it, stab it with a fork a few times (to avoid explosions) and then throw it into your fire. Make sure you have tongs on hand. It will look burnt and crispy when you take it out but whatever, that's just the skin; strip it off and you have smokey-amazing roast eggplant goop. (This also works with all varieties of peppers, e.g. anaheim, poblano...) When we used to have wood-burning store for heating we did this all the time... doing the same on a gas barbecue works too, but the flavor is not as nice.

I've never tried roasting it in a merely moderate oven. Now I wonder what difference it makes :-)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-09-09 05:43 pm (UTC)
Among other things, you can eat the skin after. Which I like, although I like the roasty goop too.
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[User Picture]From: elsmi
2013-09-09 05:54 pm (UTC)
Hmm! Int-er-esting.
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[User Picture]From: sprrwhwk
2013-09-10 12:00 am (UTC)
I really like the Chinese preparations of eggplant, especially the Chinese eggplants, which are longer, skinnier, lighter in color, thinner-skinned, and more tender. (Basically, they fix everything I don't like about the giant black eggplants.)

There's a dish one of our local restaurants serves which I've replicated a time or two, which is basically Chinese eggplant cut into half-rounds, with soy sauce and rice vinegar, and maybe Bell peppers, and scallions, and hoisin sauce, added in about that order and cooked on low-to-medium heat until everything is soft and floppy but still structural. Maybe add ground pork for extra flavor and protein. Deelish.
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[User Picture]From: timprov
2013-09-10 12:12 am (UTC)
I think the bacon grease is important for the green eggplants, as is liberal application of black pepper.
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[User Picture]From: ashnistrike
2013-09-10 03:06 am (UTC)
Mmmm. Much of my household is dubious about eggplant but will eat melatzanasalata (Greek eggplant dip that is almost, but not entirely, unlike baba ganoush). I will try the other dips as well.
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[User Picture]From: blue_hat_guru
2013-09-29 01:33 am (UTC)
Turns out baking with a topping of sliced Polish sausage and cheddar turns out pretty well.
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