Jan 15, 2011

Cooking: Eggplant

I have said before that I haven't met a vegetable I don't like but that isn't entirely true.  I have been very neutral to eggplant because I haven't had the guts to try it before.  This little vegetable (actually its a berry, who knew?) has been intimidating to me.  I remember as a kid my mom breading and frying it and that just seemed so gross.  All my thoughts of eggplant are coated in breading and fried.

I picked up one of these pretty purple beauties at the store last time I was there.  It has sat on the shelf glaring at me every time it was passed by for something more approachable.  Today I went grocery shopping so it was time to clear out all the "stuff" that hadn't been used this week.   And there sat the eggplant glaring at me yet again.  It almost seemed to taunt me "Come on wimp get over your aversion and cook me....or are you just going to toss me and be a lame-o."  Really when a vegetable acts like that, it's like a triple dog dare.  I don't know about you but I never pass up a triple dog dare.

So today I got over my eggplant aversion and there was no breading or grease involved.  My friend google passed along a few needed tips and a couple yummy blogs.  And tonight we feasted on eggplant.

Tip 1:  When grilling eggplant slice it in 1 inch strips and coat one side heavily in salt.  This will "sweat" the eggplant by drawing out the juices that make it bitter.  Let it soak for at least 20 min.  Wipe salt off and rinse with cold water.  Pat dry.

{The liquid is the "sweat" of the eggplant.  This starts to ooze from it within a few minutes of putting the salt on}

Tip 2: Pay attention to the slicing recommendation of 1 inch.  I thought that sounded to thick so I went for about 1/2 inch.  It fell apart and was a pain to remove from the grill.

Tip 3:  I am sure there is another tip out there for this tip (and if there is pass it my way please) but skin the eggplant first.  It is prettier with the skin on but when grilled this part became tougher and would cause the eggplant to be pulled from the sandwiches.

Tip 4:  Eggplant is a pretty bland vegetable.  It absorbs flavors easily and because it is a sturdy vegetable it will marinade well. 

{Basting the simple oil mix on the eggplant}

Tonight I choose to make eggplant sandwiches because they seemed harmless and fairly familiar to everyone.  I got the general idea from Chef Chloe but did my own take on it with what I had in the fridge. So with out further ado here was our dinner tonight.

Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches:

1 eggplant (blemish free and firm)
3TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP lemon or lime juice
1 tsp minced garlic
Pepper (to taste)
Basil (to taste)
8 Slices of bread
Butter or Earth Balance Spread
Sun dried Tomato Hummus (Prepared or Homemade)

{Grilling in a cast iron grill pan}

Cut eggplant in 1 inch slices lengthwise, coat with salt and "sweat" for a min. of 20 minutes.  Rinse salt of with cool water and pat dry.  Mix oil, lemon, garlic, pepper, and basil together.  Baste eggplant with olive oil mixture.  Place on grill.  Cook until grill marks are very apparent.  Flip and repeat. While eggplant is grilling, butter 8 slices of bread.  Turn oven on Broil.  Place bread on a cookie sheet and place in oven for about 2 minutes or until butter has melted and bread is browned on the edges.  Remove from oven and spread hummus on 4 slices of bread. Remove eggplant  from grill and immediately place on hummus covered slices.  Add topping and Enjoy!

*Sandwich Fixin's:

Sliced Tomatoes
Sliced Cucumber
Sliced Sweet Onion
Sliced Red (or yellow, orange or green) Peppers
*Really anything would work on these sandwiches.  These were the veggies that needed to be used up in my fridge tonight.

Okay another admission.....I never have eaten Kale either.  I have bought it in the past with every intention of getting to know this healthy green but then I don't use it.  I have no previous meetings with this veggie I just haven't been truly motivated to try it.  Ian picked it out last time we went shopping and just like the Eggplant it has been glaring at me.  So tonight I used it all up.  All of it.  One whole bundle was eaten by this family. And no one complained.  Or not to loudly anyway.  Here is what I threw together.

Chopped Kale Salad:

1 bunch Kale de-veined, rinsed and chopped
1 large handful baby Spinach
1 med Red Pepper diced
1/2 can olives coarsely chopped
1 handful coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1 handful coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1 head chopped broccoli
Walnuts (optional)
Italian Dressing

Prepare vegetables as directed above.  Combine in large salad bowl and toss with dressing. Serve.

{De-veined Kale is a very pretty sight!}

Tip 1:  De-vein the Kale.  The middle vein is really tough and is kind of a pain.
Tip 2:  It needs something yummy like dried cranberries thrown in.  Raisins and even apricots would taste yummy.
Tip 3:  The walnuts are optional but a nut is needed.  They add just the right amount of crunch and texture.  Toasted pine nuts or toasted sesame seeds would be yum-o in this salad.  Really really yummy in fact.
Tip 4:  The Cilantro is optional because it adds a different flavor.  I loved it but Dean didn't.  If you aren't a huge cilantro fan just leave it out.
Tip 5:  An avocado dressing would be so very yummy on this.  I plan on trying it out next time.
Tip 6: I think this salad would be better if it chilled for an hour or two to let the dressing really mingle.

{Not a good pic, the sun went down while I was cooking.  A very veggie packed yummy dinner.  This one will go on the new menu plan I am making up.}

Family Friendly Rating:
2 Thumbs up (Those who actually ate it loved it.  Ian was in a rotten mood and wouldn't eat anything at all.  Lauren was nearly asleep so she passed on the dinner experience also.  Laina inhaled it and Dean and I loved it.  We plan on making it again and playing with some different marinades.)


Nicole said...

Wow! Looking at this is making me very hungry!

The Rice's said...

Geez... wish my family would eat stuff like that. My kids can smell veggies from a mile away, no matter how I try and disguise it. Looks so yummy though!!

Savannah McQueen said...

Have you ever tried white eggplant? They lack the bitter flavor.

Kim said...


I haven't even heard of white eggplant. I will have to check around here and see if I can find it. Does it have as thick of a skin as the purple?