Meet the eggplant: Purple or white or striped, smooth and shiny and wearing a green cap.
Speaking its name in French makes you feel like you are at the height of sophistication – l’aubergine.
But eating it is another story. What does it taste like? How do you eat it? Do you peel it?
Some people consider certain vegetables boring or gross because of a funny texture or because they don’t have much taste when raw. Mushrooms, zucchini, and eggplant might make the list. The key lies in bringing out the flavors of these shy vegetables with cooking and a little dressing up (but don’t try to change who they are now!). Roast mushrooms with garlic, butter, and rosemary to taste that savory, umami flavor. Salt a zucchini to draw out its excess moisture and concentrate its flavor, then toss it with some oil and pepper, roasting it just long enough so it begins to brown and its sweetness is revealed.
An eggplant has a similar texture to a mushroom and zucchini – spongy, soft, a little bounce to it, maybe it’s a little weird (and scary!). But don’t ignore the eggplant (or mushroom or zucchini) – it has a magic all its own when you bring out its personality. These vegetables are shy. You have to give them the right environment to shine.
I bought two eggplants from the farmers’ market and decided to turn them into a little snack for myself before our visitors came over for the weekend. I got this recipe from our farm share newsletter last year and immediately adopted it. This is how I eat an eggplant (and how you should too).
Roasted Eggplant (for sandwiches, snacking, or a side dish)
1 eggplant (any variety)
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Give the eggplant a nice rinse, pull back its top leaves and cut off the top stem. Cut it into ¼-inch slices and lay out on a piece of parchment paper. Do NOT scrape out the seeds! Ignore them. They will be delicious.
In a separate small bowl mix 2 Tablespoons of mayo with one clove minced garlic. Spread each slice of eggplant with a dab of mayonnaise. For one eggplant you probably need about 1 or 2 Tablespoons total – it is a very thin schmear of mayo.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a pinch of shredded Parmesan cheese.
Roast in the oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
Let cool slightly and then enjoy.