Eggplant/Aubergine

Eggplant is, in my opinion, best cooked on the BBQ. Poke a few holes then throw the whole eggplant on the grill and leave there until the skin is blackened and the flesh is very soft. Scoop out the insides and proceed to make baba ganoush or eggplant hummus. Another way to BBQ your eggplant is by slicing it into medallions, marinating in your favourite dressing then grilling until tender. I love to do a mix of eggplant and zucchini medallions.

Zucchini & Eggplant Carpaccio
From ‘Earth to Table – Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm’, by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann
What grows together, goes together. This is a great way to think about food. Zucchini and eggplants grow side by side on the farm. Because these vegetables can be bland alone, I grill them for smokiness and pair them with some heat in the chilies for zing. This salad can be served hot or cold. And it is perfect for picnics or light lunches. Serves 6.

Ingredients:
1 lb green zucchini (about 3)
1 lb yellow zucchini (about 3)
1 lb small Italian eggplants (about 2)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp grated lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
2 shallots, minced
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 habañero chili pepper, seeded and minced
1 cup grated pecorino cheese (about 4 oz)
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

1. If grilling vegetables, preheat grill or barbecue to medium.
2. Slice zucchinis and eggplants lengthwise into wafer-thin slices.
Place in a bowl if serving raw, or gill until softened and grill-marked, about 1 minute per side.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and shallots. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add vegetables and toss gently to coat. Let stand for 5 minutes.
4. Carefully arrange vegetables on plates and sprinkle with chili pepper, cheese and parsley.

Eggplant Caponata
A Sicilian dish by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann
From ‘Earth to Table; Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm’
This rich, garlicky side dish is delicious with fish, beef and lamb. Chilling it for at least 8 hours before serving allows the flavours to really develop. Serves 8.

Ingredients:
• 2 large eggplants (about 2 1/2 lbs total), cut into 1-inch cubes
• 2 tbsp kosher salt
• 1 1/2 cups olive oil (not extra-virgin), divided
• 6 stalks celery, cut into 1/2 -inch dice
• 1/2 bulb fennel, cut into 1/2 -inch dice
• 1 zucchini, cut into 1/2 -inch dice
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 medium onion, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces
• 3 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2 -inch dice
• 1 cut drained green olives, coarsely chopped
• 1/2 cup drained capers
• 1/2 cup sultana raisins
• 1/2 cup pine nuts
• 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
• 2 tbsp granulated sugar
• Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
• 3/4 cup whole raw almonds, lightly toasted
• 1/2 cup minced fresh basil
*Note: I found this recipe delicious but too sweet. Next time, I would use only half of the white wine vinegar and maybe a teaspoon of sugar.  Adjust the recipe to your liking.

1. In a colander set over a bowl, toss eggplants with salt. Let drain for 1 hour. Rinse well and pat dry with paper towels. [Skip this step if you are using Luxy eggplants.]
2. In a large, deep pot, heat 1 cup of the oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add celery and fennel; sauté for 1 minute. Add zucchini and sauté for 3 minutes. Add eggplant and sauté until vegetables are golden brown and tender, about 10 minutes.
3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a plate lined with paper towels, set aside.
4. Add the remaining oil to the pot and sauté garlic and onion over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes.
5. Stir in tomatoes, olives, capers, raisins, pine nuts, vinegar and sugar; cook for 10 minutes. Add reserved vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Transfer to a wide, shallow dish and let cool for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. (Make ahead: Refrigerate for up to 1 week.)
7. About one hour before serving, remove from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Serve sprinkled with whole almonds and basil.

Ratatouille - Vegetable Casserole - From 'A Taste of the Mediterranean, Vegetarian Style' by Mary Salloum. 
Serves 6-8.


Ingredients:
2 medium eggplants, approximately 1 lb
2 medium zucchinis
1/3 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large onion, sliced in rings
1 large red pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 large green pepper, seeded and cut into strips
3 large tomatoes, skinned and cubed
1 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp pepper
1 large bay leaf
1/2 tsp oregano


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut eggplant and zucchini into 2 cm cubes. Set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and cook until onion is transparent. Add the eggplant and zucchini. Sauté for 5 minutes, add peppers. Sauté for 4 more minutes. Add tomatoes and all seasonings and herbs. Stir gently to mix. Place in a 4-quart casserole, cover and bake for 45 minutes. Serve hot or cold as a main course.

Eggplant Parmigiana
Recipe from 'Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen' by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. Serves 6.

Ingredients:
3 medium eggplants or 5 or 6 smaller eggplants (about 2½ to 3 lbs total)
1 tbsp coarse sea or kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 tsp salt
All-purpose flour for dredging
2 cups fine, dry bread crumbs
½ cup vegetable oil, or as needed
½ cup olive oil, or as needed
Tomato Sauce
2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
12 fresh basil leaves
1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese or Italian Fontina cheese, cut into slices 1/3 inch thick
Trim the stems and ends from the eggplants.  Remove strips of peel about 1 inch wide from the eggplants, leaving about half the peel intact.  Cut the eggplant lengthwise into ½-inch-thick slices and place them in a colander. 
Sprinkle with the coarse salt and let drain for 1 hour.  Rinse the eggplant under cool running water; drain thoroughly, and pat dry.
Whisk the eggs and 1 tsp salt together in a 13 X 9-inch baking pan or wide, shallow bowl.  Spread the flour and bread crumbs in an even layer in two separate wide, shallow bowls or over sheets of wax paper. 
Dredge the eggplant slices in flour, shaking off the excess.  Dip the floured eggplant into the egg mixture, turning well to coat both sides evenly.  Let excess egg drip back into the pan, then lay the eggplant in the pan of bread crumbs.  Turn to coat both sides well with bread crumbs, pressing with your hands until the bread crumbs adhere well to the eggplant.
Pour ½ cup each of the olive and vegetable oils into a med skillet.  Heat over med-high until a corner of one of the eggplants slices gives off a lively sizzle when dipped into the oil.  Add as many of the eggplant slices as fit without touching and cook, turning once, until well browned on both sides, about 6 minutes.  Remove the eggplant to a baking pan lined with paper towels and repeat with the remaining eggplant slices.  Adjust the heat as the eggplant cooks to prevent the bits of coating that fall off the eggplant slices from burning.  Add oil to the pan as necessary during cooking to keep the level more or less the same.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Heat the tomato sauce to simmering, if necessary, in a small saucepan over med heat.  Ladle enough sauce into a 9 X 13-inch baking dish to cover the bottom.  Sprinkle with an even layer of grated cheese and top with a layer of fried eggplant, pressing it down gently.  Tear a few leaves of basil over the eggplant and ladle about ¾ cup of the sauce to coat the top evenly.  Sprinkle an even layer of grated cheese over the sauce and top with a layer of mozzarella or Fontina, using about one-third of the cheese.  Repeat the layering as described about two more times, ending with a top layer of sliced cheese that leaves a border of about 1 inch around the edges of the baking dish.  Drizzle sauce around the border of the baking dish and sprinkle the top layer with the remaining grated cheese.  Finish with a few decorative streaks or rounds of tomato sauce.  Cover the baking dish loosely with aluminum foil and poke several holes in the foil with the tip of a knife.  Bake 30 minutes.
Uncover, and continue baking until the top layer of cheese is golden in spots, about 15 min.  Let rest 10 to 20 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

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