An Eggplant Extravaganza to Enjoy
This versatile vegetable is great in a salad or as comfort food.
This week we continue to enjoy this summer’s harvest by exploring the various ways to prepare eggplant. Eggplant is optimally enjoyed when it is cooked. As a raw vegetable it can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked, developing a rich, complex flavor.
Traditionally, recipes often advise salting, rinsing and draining of the sliced fruit. This is known as degorging. The degorging process softens and reduces the amount of fat absorbed during cooking, in addition to removing its bitterness.
Eggplant is more versatile than you might think. It is often prepared as breaded cutlets in the very popular traditional Italian entrée eggplant Parmesan. It may also be roasted in its skin until charred, so the pulp can be removed and blended with other ingredients to make various dips and sauces with a middle eastern flare.
It is also delicious when stuffed with meat, rice, or other fillings and then baked. A simple way to enjoy it is to brush both sides of sliced, salted eggplant with olive oil or a marinade you enjoy and grill for a couple of minutes on each side.
This week we’ve featured a simple salad starring eggplant. In addition to being a flavorful and light accompaniment to your entrée of choice (or enjoy it on its own), it is a colorful and a fun presentation piece. If you have not grown it in your own garden this year, Shaw’s, and many local farm stands readily offer them.
Our second recipe is a traditional, delicious Greek comfort food called Mossuaka. This casserole combining eggplant, ground meat and cheese is a delightful addition to your recipe collection.
Bring on the eggplant and enjoy.
Eggplant Salad Stacks
- 1 log (4 ounces) soft goat cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 large eggplant, about 1 pound
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 medium heirloom tomatoes in assorted colors, cored and thinly sliced crosswise into 4 rounds
- Combine goat cheese, basil, and thyme. Set aside. Prepare grill.
- Cut eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place in a colander and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt; toss to mix. Let stand 10 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Brush slices with 1 teaspoon oil and grill for 4 minutes; turn over and continue grilling for 4 to 5 minutes, or until tender.
- Combine remaining 2 teaspoons oil, vinegar, and mustard, and whisk to blend. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
- To assemble stacks, place 1 eggplant slice on a plate. Top with an eighth of the cheese mixture and a slice of tomato. Drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon vinaigrette. Add another slice of eggplant, cheese, tomato, and a final slice of eggplant; top with 1 teaspoon vinaigrette. Let stand 5 minutes to allow cheese to melt
- 2 medium eggplants
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 pound lean ground beef (or lamb if you prefer)
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) tomatoes, drained
- 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- dash cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk
- 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- Slice eggplants in 1/2-inch slices. In a large kettle, boil eggplant slices 5 to 10 minutes, until tender. Drain in colander or on paper towels.
- Sprinkle eggplant with 2 teaspoons of salt and place a layer of paper towels on top of the salted slices. Place a heavy casserole or bowl on top of eggplant, pressing down to squeeze out excess water. Arrange half of the eggplant slices in a 13x9x2-inch baking dish.
- In a large skillet, brown ground beef; drain off excess fat. Add drained tomatoes, breaking up with a spoon. Add tomato sauce, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, oregano, and cinnamon.
- Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spread meat mixture over the eggplant. Top meat mixture with remaining eggplant slices.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour; remove from heat. Gradually stir in milk; return to heat and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Add shredded cheese and continue stirring until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Add a small portion of the mixture to the eggs, beating quickly, then return egg mixture to sauce in saucepan, whisking in quickly. Pour cheese sauce over the all.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until topping is set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. This eggplant recipe serves six.