Eggplant

Eggplant Caviar

Makes 6 first course servings.

This is a Georgian (Russian) dish where eggplants are plentiful and seedless. There it is called “the poor man’s caviar.” l like to serve this piquant dish surrounded by sliced English or Persian cucumbers and crackers.

Like most simple recipes with very few ingredients, the quality of the eggplant becomes paramount. Unfortunately, I have no suggestions how to pick a good eggplant (try to find one with few seeds).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium to large eggplant (about 1 ½ pounds)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons double-concentrate tomato paste
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Line a pan with foil.
  3. Place the eggplant in pan and bake for about 35 minutes, turning once, until the eggplant is soft to the touch.
  4. While the eggplant is baking, heat the oil in a skillet.  Add the onion and sauté, over low heat until soft and transparent. About 10 minutes.
  5. When the eggplant is  cool enough to handle, discard the stem, cut in half, scrape off some of the seeds if there any, and pour off any accumulated juice. Scrape the flesh into a food processor, fitted with the steel blade. Add the onion, and the tomato paste and pulse until almost smooth. 
  6. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  7. Serve at room temperature.
 
 

Sweet and Sour Eggplant

Makes 4 first course servings.

This recipe is a nice addition to your file of first courses as it is delicious, easy to prepare and it keeps well.  The mint really enhances the flavor.  Serve it warm or at room temperature with crackers, toasted pita, or just plain.                 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium eggplant, about 1 ¼  pounds
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼  cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 plum tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped (See Note)
  • ½  cup tightly packed flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • ½  tablespoon sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Leaves from 4 sprigs fresh mint, coarsely chopped

PREPARATION

  1. Rinse the eggplant, pat dry, discard the stem and cut into ½ inch pieces.  Scrape off as many seeds as you can.  Place the cubed eggplant in a colander and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Let drain for about 30 minutes.  Squeeze gently and then pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan.  Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring from time to time, until golden, about 8 minutes.  Add eggplant and stir for a minute.  Stir in tomatoes and cook covered over low heat, stirring from time to time until the eggplant is soft, about 15 minutes.  Add parsley, vinegar and sugar.
  3. Season to taste with salt, pepper.
  4. At serving time add mint.  If combined before, the mint loses its aroma.

NOTE:

To skin tomatoes, drop them into boiling water.  Bring the water back to boil and drain.  Core the tomatoes and slip off the skin.  Cut the tomatoes in half widthwise and squeeze gently to remove the seeds.  Some seeds will remain.

 
 

Asian Eggplant

Makes 3-4 servings.

I love this piquant eggplant dish. Eating it with whole grain crisp crackers enhances the flavor. 

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium eggplant (about 1¼ pounds)

DRESSING

  • 1 garlic clove 
  • ½ inch ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Place the eggplant in a foil-lined pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, turning once. The eggplant should be soft.   
  3. Cool the eggplant until comfortable to handle. Cut off the stem, cut in half lengthwise and discard as many seeds as possible. Cut into small cubes.

DRESSING

  1. Coarsely chop the garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Using the blade of a knife, crush it to a paste.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the garlic paste, ginger, olive oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and rice vinegar. Add the eggplant, combine and season to taste.
 
 

Steamed Eggplant

Makes 3-4 servings. 

Eggplant is a vegetable that can be prepared in many different ways. Baked, broiled, barbecued, puréed or even steamed, it is always delicious. This light, slightly spicy dish is influenced by Chinese cuisine, and therefore I like to eat it with chopsticks. You may prefer to eat it with whole grain crackers. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium eggplant, about 1¼ pounds

DRESSING

  • 1½ tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1½ tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons cider vinegar
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish

PREPARATION

  1. Cut the stem off the eggplant and discard. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into quarters, scraping off the seeds, some will remain. (See Note)
  2. Place the eggplant quarters in the top section of a steamer; cover and steam over a brisk boil for 15 minutes. It should be soft.
  3. Remove the top section of the steamer and let the eggplant cool. With a fork, scrape the eggplant flesh from the peel into long strips. Discard the peel and place in a bowl.
  4. In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, cider vinegar, and cayenne.  Pour the dressing over the eggplant and toss.
  5. Season to taste and garnish with cilantro.

NOTE

It is very difficult to find eggplants without seeds. De-seeding is a nuisance. I am OK with leaving some seeds but not all. I think it interferes with the taste.