The Incredibly Versatile Eggplant

Aubergines_Three_Types

Types of Eggplant; Source: Wikimedia

 

I eggplant aka aubergine is my favorite vegetable. It is extremely versatile and has been incorporated into cuisines from around the world. Summer is eggplant season and the best time to think about the many ways in which one could use this vegetable. I eat eggplant at least once a week during this season and I still don’t get sick of it because there seem to be an unlimited number of ways to consume it. Here I will mention a few ways in which I like to eat it and briefly describe my version of eggplant parmesan.

Choosing and preparing eggplant

HK_SYP_Best_of_Best_Vegetable_purple_Eggplant_Aug-2012

Japanese Eggplant; Source: Wikimedia

Eggplant comes in hundreds of shapes and sizes. The 3 types I see most often, are the small egg shaped Indian kind, the long skinny Japanese kind, and the more common, large, American grocery store kind.

Pick eggplants that look shiny and taut. As eggplants gets older, the skin tends to look dull. When you cut it open, pay attention to the seeds. A lot of seeds are also an indicator of an older vegetable. An older vegetable is much more likely to be bitter. If have an older eggplant, cut, salt and drain the vegetable for 10-15 minutes before you use it. This should help reduce some of the bitterness. 

What to do with eggplant

These are just some suggestions for my favorite ways to eat eggplant.

In Italian style cooking- in pasta, in a veggie lasagna, or an eggplant parmesan.

In ratatouille.

In a Middle Eastern eggplant dip – Baba Ganouj

Since eggplants originated in Asia, there seem to be a million ways to cook them Asian-style. In India, we stuff them, fry them, or make a spicy roasted side. You could stir fry them Chinese style with a sauce. You can make the Korean side dish, Gaji-namul. It goes well in Thai style curries. You could even pan fry it Japanese style.

 

No- Fry Eggplant Parmesan

When cooking for a group, eggplant parmesan is one of my go-to recipes. You make some noodles to go with it and you have an easy dinner. A 13 by 9 inch pan of eggplant parmesan makes about 10 servings. As always, I do not have exact measurements, just a general idea of what I do. This dish does require some advance preparation but not much hands-on time. 

Method

Slice the eggplant into circles and salt well. Leave in a colander for about half hour. The eggplant should lose some water as it sits. Rub off some of the excess salt from the eggplant and coat in a mixture of flour, salt and pepper. Dip pieces in beaten egg and then coat with breadcrumbs. Place on oiled baking sheet and cook at 350 degrees for about half an hour or until it is cooked. Once eggplant is roasted, layer your baking dish with red sauce (recipe here), eggplant, mozzarella, and repeat until complete. Add some parmesan to the last layer of cheese and bake for another 15 minutes. Let cool for a bit before cutting into it. 

Advertisements