an equal opportunity eater.
Taking the neurosis out of food, one meal at a time.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Aubergine, berenjena, melanzane
An eggplant by any other name can be just as intimidating.
The first time I cooked one was for a sublime dish named moussaka. I had a craving for it, unshelved all the cookbooks, found a recipe that looked great, and dove in. By the time I had finished frying one eggplant it had completely absorbed two cups of olive oil. I didn't attempt eggplant for years after that. (The secret is raising the heat, of course, but I didn't know that then.)
Now I know just a bit more, even a couple of recipes that don't require frying (but ah, how delicious fried eggplant is!) and here are a few.
1) The most obvious: grilled eggplant. Slice a large, deep purple eggplant lengthwise 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. You may find recipes that require you to sprinkle salt on the slices, set in a colander for an hour, then wipe off the moisture and salt. All I can say to that it, what a pain in the behind!!!I've done it and not done it and I honestly can not tell the difference. Grill. 4-8 minutes per side depending on your heat and your patience. I like to sprinkle garlic salt and drizzle olive oil. Serve with roasted peppers.
2) Doesn't "melenzane a la vaporetta" sound better than "steamed eggplant"? The first name is exotic, the second conjures steam tables in a dark, unventilated cafeteria. Cube one large eggplant. (Don't like the peel? Peel it before you cube it. I give you permission.) Saute half an onion in a skillet until soft. Add minced garlic. Add the eggplant, and stir until covered with oil, add a third of a cup of white wine, one cup or more diced or canned tomatoes, cover and simmer until soft. Salt to taste, a sprinkling of parsley for color. I like this aside a serving of brown rice. It makes you feel virtuous.
3) Baba ganoush: Steam two large eggplants until tender. I put them in my pasta pot, set them on the insert, and cook over bubbling water. Takes 30-40 minutes to cook through, check by prodding with a fork. Slit the cooked eggplants open, scoop out the flesh, chop coarsely. In a skillet slick with olive oil, saute garlic. Add the chopped eggplant, cook out a bit of the moisture. Add half a cup of tahini, the juice of half a lemon, salt to taste, and a dribble or two of sesame oil to deepen the flavor. Delicious as a side dish or dip.