The incredible edible... eggplant?

Posted on | Friday, January 28, 2011 | 1 Comment

The vegetable (that's technically a berry) has always left me wondering if it came from another planet. Purple and strangely shaped; it looks like something Barney might tote around. I've Previously tried to cook this supposedly versatile food only to be faced with bitter leathery mess that left me bereft of the need to have such a diversified pallet. They were shuffled over with sardines, boiled cabbage, and brussels sprouts in the no-cook category.

But then, I managed to cook myself into liking brussels sprouts. Maybe I was missing some key ingredient in not botching the foodstuff. If I could get myself to like sprouts surely their was some way to redeem the eggplant.

Thank goodness for Alton Brown. I stumbled upon his Good Eats episode on YouTube explaining the wonders of the vegetable/berry. According to the king of good cookery I had made this strange food all wrong! They're naturally bitter in flavor (at least the kind Americans like myself know about) and need to have a bit of extra treatment or spices to bring out their other flavors. I had simply roasted my purple produce with a smidgen of olive oil and meant to eat it as a side dish. No wonder it tasted like a bitter chunk of shoe leather!

Realizing my mistake I was willing to try again, with a little help from Alton. This time instead of merely roasting them with a boiler I was going to make eggplant parmesan, with a few variances from the original recipe. Per Alton's orders, of course.

The first step was to peel and slice the eggplant. My handy dandy mandolin slicer made that task easy enough. Have I mentioned I love my mandolin? It makes slicing and dicing a breeze.

Next, we want to purge the eggplant slices. That means salting the slices of eggplant and forcing the cell walls to break down -- see those water droplets? That's because of the salt and the purging process forcing the eggplant to release its excess liquids. Cool! Due to this process they lose a good bit of their bitter flavor while making them much easier to cook with. Purge the slices on both sides for about 30-45 minutes each then rinse off the excess salt and leave on a paper towel to dry off.

The eggplant parmesan I am making calls for slicing the pieces of eggplant into thin strips. I know I'm holding the knife wrong in this picture (shush, I was posing for the picture) but you have to admit the angle looks pretty nifty. You can even see my camera in the knife's reflection! Anyways. Slice into strips, think linguine sized or thinner.

And you will have a pile of what looks to be bits of squid parts. Yummy.

But we're not done yet! Break out your skillet and put it onto medium heat. Add some olive oil, crushed peppers, and minced garlic. I didn't have any crushed peppers so I replaced them with a good dash of cayenne and it worked wonderfully. Follow the garlic with your squid bits eggplant slices. Let the slices do their thing for a few moments so that they can cook off a bit of that extra water left over to before adding chopped tomatoes and stir together.

Add cream (I had soymilk on hand, when it doubt improvise right?) and stir until a sauce forms. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and chopped basil then serve! It was surprisingly good. The eggplants worked well as a pasta, albeit a mildly chewy one. They held onto some of their salt and when mixed with the other ingredients it created a spicy, earthy and mildly tart flavor that I really enjoyed. At this rate I will have gone through my entire list of no-cook foods before the year is out.

Too bad Alton doesn't know how to fancy up a can or sardines.


One Response to “The incredible edible... eggplant?”

  1. somethink.different
    January 29, 2011 at 7:22 AM

    If you can't do sardines plain, here are a couple of recipes I've found. I got sardines once and wasn't sure what to think of them, but I'm feeling inspired... maybe I'll try them and we can compare notes.

    PS- Mother Earth News is awesome!


Photobucket I was born and raised in California. I have also lived in Hungary, Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, and I will be moving again this summer. Kael is my incredibly awesome kiddo who is growing up far too quickly, and Alex is my fiance who makes me happier than should be legally allowed. I write about them a lot. I'm mildly obsessed with cooking and photography. I write about those things, too.