Did you know that blackening the skin of eggplant over an open flame gives the meat a smoky flavor? And did you know that if you don’t prick little holes in the skin, the steam inside builds up and creates a big explosion?
Not that this has *ever* happened to me. I’ve only read about it. Really.
And that old-wives tale about salting the eggplant before cooking to remove the bitterness... For some varieties (like the big American eggplants) this is important. The smaller Asian varieties don't have the bitterness. Nonetheless, it's a crucial step for any recipe that calls for frying eggplant slices. The salting prevents the eggplant from absorbing the oil like a sponge. You'll use the less oil and the eggplant will be less greasy. Win-win, if you ask me.
I returned from the farm with a car-load of tomatoes and more produce to enjoy at home, including several varieties of eggplant. And much to my (pleasant) surprise, my garden had not wilted in the heat, and in fact I had a bumper crop of eggplant.
The fastest way to process (and preserve) the eggplant was to make baba ganoush and an eggplant chutney.
For the eggplant chutney, (after salting the slices) I fried it in a blend of canola and olive oils until very dark brown.
I chopped it up, tossed it with lemon and basil. Depending on your taste, it could use an extra shot of salt and pepper.
Baba Ganoush is a traditional Middle Eastern dip made with eggplant and sesame seed paste (tahini). Typically, it's served with pita. At Oleana, they garnish braised shortribs with it.
Traditionally, raw garlic is added to the dip, but I prefer the flavor of roasted. If you like raw garlic, reduce the quantity to one clove.
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 medium eggplant
2 tablespoons tahini
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper
parsley or scallions for garnish
1. Prick whole eggplant with a fork. Place directly over a fire...
...and cook until blackened on all sides and the flesh is tender. Let cool.
2. In a piece of tin-foil, wrap up the garlic and olive oil. Roast in 350 oven for 30 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and golden brown.
2. Peel the black skin away and discard.
3. Put the eggplant pulp, tahini, cumin, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Garnish with scallions or parsley