Sometimes I love the art in food, rather than the food itself, but Eggplant or Aubergine is one exception. If you’ve ever wondered what in the world to do with these purple globes, here are some quick tips on how to cook eggplant.
1.Select an eggplant by pressing your finger gently into the skin, if it bounces back like the under eye skin of your youth…it’s fresh.
2.Cut the top and end off and discard. Slice into 1/2″ disks and lay them on the cutting board.
3.Eggplant is packed not only with nutrients, but also a lot of water. It’s best to extract the water for roasting, sauteing or frying. Sprinkle Kosher salt onto each slice. Then take each slice and sprinkle the back side and stack in a colander over a bowl to catch the water. At this point you can place something heavy on top to help extract the water (large bowl with a bottle of wine in it), and leave for 30 minutes.
4.After thirty minutes, take out your eggplant slices and notice how thin and dry they are. I like to give them a rinse at this point to eliminate any salt, and then pat dry before cooking.
Drizzle your slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper, and roast in the oven at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or so.
You are probably most familiar with this recipe. Take sliced eggplant, dip them in whisked eggs, then dip them in bread crumbs, and fry in olive oil and butter for a few minutes on each side, just as you would with chicken. Top with red sauce of your choice and parmesan cheese.
Eggplant goes well with other vegetables too. Dice them with onion, zucchini and tomato, saute in olive oil, top with feta cheese and basil for a healthy lunch.
Eggplant is not to be feared, and once you have them properly prepared for cooking, you’ll find the options are just about limitless. Also, play around with ingredients. Roast with curry powder, or add thyme to the breadcrumbs for eggplant parmesan. And in the summer, grill them with a baste of melted butter and herbs. And if you just don’t like eggplant after trying all of these options, you could always just keep them as art on your counter in a pretty glass dish.