Exploring Eggplant

Last year eggplant was one of the most difficult vegetables to use up (and to use well) in our household. I don’t think that I made a successful eggplant dish all year (not for lack of trying). We grilled it, stir fried it, and even baked it into lasagna-but never fell in love with the aubergine. This year is a different story though. 

I found two kid-friendly ways to prepare eggplant that work for us! If you ask Gus what he wants to eat, he will always tell you “Pizza”, so I found a way to blend his favorites into our CSA fare. 

Original post: http://thedomesticman.com/2012/07/03/eggplant-pizza/

Eggplant Pizza

You’ll Need:
1 eggplant, sliced
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
2 tsp olive oil for brushing
toppings as needed

Slice the eggplant and sprinkle with some salt on each side. Set aside for thirty minutes, then rinse and pat dry. This will take some of the bitterness out of the eggplant, especially if you’re using a larger/older fruit.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Brush each side of the eggplant slices with olive oil, then sprinkle both sides 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Place the eggplants on a cooling rack that’s on a baking sheet, and bake until they are softened and a little brown, about six minutes.

Spoon the tomato sauce on the eggplant slices, then add the cheese and toppings. I’m sure you know how to make pizza! Our favorite toppings are black olives, mushrooms, and nitrate-free pepperoni.

Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for another five minutes, until the cheese is melted. Go ahead and broil it for a minute if you’d like some extra crispy toppings.

That’s it! The eggplants are a little more tangy than your everyday pizza crust, but I’ve come to really enjoy their distinct taste as an impromptu pizza crust.

This was a great recipe because Gus could help prepare the meal too. Another one of Gus’ favorite foods is french fries (of course…), well eggplant to the rescue again! 

Eggplant Fries

Peel and slice eggplant into fry-sized pieces. Sprinkle with salt and let set for 30 min. Pat dry.

In the meantime create a dry breading with a flour base and whatever spices fit your tastes. Garlic, Costco No-Salt seasoning and cayenne pepper is what goes over well for us. Be creative!

Coat eggplant in dry mixture and fry in a pan of oil, turning once, until golden brown!

These are delicious!

Here is a baked version from http://www.nutritiontwins.com/blog/384-baked-eggplant-recipe#.UhDkp9KTjSg

Baked Eggplant Recipe

Ingredients:

Baked Eggplant:

  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into strips
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups fresh low-sodium whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Baked Eggplant:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Prepare a baking sheet sprinkled with the olive oil
  • Start by sweating the eggplant.  Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and let sit in a coriander until softened, about 30 minutes.  Pat eggplant dry.
  • Mix flour and pepper.  Roll eggplant in the flour to coat lightly.
  • Roll eggplant in the beaten eggs.
  • Roll the eggplant in the breadcrumbs, coating completely
  • Place on the baking sheet without overlapping.
  • Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until browned.  Flip and brown the other side to finish cooking.
  • Cool.

Here is another classic eggplant dish from http://www.olivesfordinner.com/2012/09/ratatouille-confit-byaldi.html

Ratatouille

INGREDIENTS
1 TB olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
5 cloves garlic, sliced
2 TB flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 TB fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup crushed roma tomatoes (I used a prepared version)
1/2 small onion, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced on a mandoline slicer
1 small squash, sliced on a mandoline slicer
1 small eggplant, sliced on a mandoline slicer
1 tomato, chopped
extra parsley, chopped (for serving)
handful of oil-cured olives, chopped (for serving)

METHOD
Place the olive oil and chopped onion in a small cast-iron pan over low heat. After about 5 minutes, sprinkle it with the thyme, oregano, salt and pepper flakes. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes without stirring. Add in the garlic and stir everything around. Let simmer for about 10 minutes more. Add in the fresh parsley, basil and roma tomato sauce. Stir to combine and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes more.

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

Remove the pan from the heat and place onto a potholder on your countertop. Distribute the sliced onion onto the bottom.

Place a zucchini slice in the middle, then cover it with a squash slice so only the rind part is showing. Place an eggplant slice on top of that and repeat the process until you’ve created a spiral design in one long strand around your entire pan. It took me about 20 minutes to get all of the slices placed as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the chopped tomatoes over the top. Place a piece of circular parchment paper on top of the pan, then place a piece of foil over the entire pan. Place into the oven to bake for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, remove the parchment paper and foil. Increase the oven heat to 400 degrees, then bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the top is slightly brown.

Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and olives.

I enjoy finding recipes (like the one above) that include several items from our share each week. We frequently make salsas with whatever we have in our bag. You can’t go wrong just playing around with the same base each week. The salsa is delicious on all sorts of delivery systems. 

Salsa Fresca Recipe Ingredients: http://www.freshbitesdaily.com/salsa-fresca/

Serves: #4

  • 4 large tomatoes, washed and cored
  • 1 medium sweet white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 springs of cilantro, stems and all
  • 3 fresno or jalapeno chilis, seeded and minced

Salsa Fresca Recipe Steps

  1. Finely chop the tomatoes and the onions.
  2. Finely mince the garlic and the cilantro.
  3. Mince the peppers. Keep the seeds if you like really hot foods.
  4. Mix all together and enjoy. Most of the authentic Mexican cooks I know do not salt this. Do as you like — there is no pressure!

Another great way to use fresh items that are all in our share is to make bruschetta! 

Fresh Bruschetta

4 tomatoes

One handful of Basil

3-4 cloves of garlic

3T Olive oil

Chop. Mix. Serve on toasted bread. Easy and delicious!

The final recipe is usually better in the fall-but the past few weeks have qualified as autumnal enough to pass. 

My best pal’s Potato Leek Soup (Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown, 2005) http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/leek-potato-soup-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

Ingredients
1 pound leeks, cleaned and dark green sections removed, approximately 4 to 5 medium
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Heavy pinch kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
14 ounces, approximately 3 small, Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced small
1 quart vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon snipped chives
Directions
Chop the leeks into small pieces.

In a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and a heavy pinch of salt and sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the potatoes and the vegetable broth, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are soft, approximately 45 minutes.

Turn off the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream, buttermilk, and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately, or chill and serve cold.

This is delicious on a cold August day, or can be served cold! 

That’s it for this week, Cheers!

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