back in the thick of things October 21, 2009

Eggplant1 It's tough getting back into the cook-whatever-you-want mode after our Eat on $30 challenge last week. When we went to do our shopping for the week (which included getting provisions for our fund-raising party we had Sunday), it was hard to focus and just shop. Everything I bought I looked at the price of it. I found myself putting things back because they were "too expensive" even though I didn't have to.

One of my tactics during the challenge last week was to buy produce that was "on sale" at our farmers market. This usually means its wrapped in a plastic baggy and marked with a discount sticker. You don't have as many days to use it before it goes bad but it's still in good condition at time of sale. I was wandering up and down the aisles and saw some eggplant marked 20% off. I said what the hell and threw it in the cart.

Eggplant is a veggie I don't cook with very often. It's one of those things I'll eat if prepared for me but I don't buy it often. I've made caponata and spreads like babaghanoush before but that's the extent of it. I also find that it takes a lot of work and/or some heavy spices to make eggplant TASTE like something. When I ran across Hubert Keller's recipe for eggplant caviar, it seemed like a light recipe that still managed to pack a flavor punch.

Eggplant2My version is based on this recipe but editorialized to use what I had on hand. I used it as a guide for prepping the eggplant and for the addition of basil and chives stirred in at the end. In true thrifty form, I used some roasted red peppers, green onion and garlic left from my party supplies. My parsley is thriving again so I threw some of that in there at the end with the basil and chives. It's a delicious, flavorful and – to my surprise – not unattractive as many mushed eggplant things can be. Served with some warm pita or spread on toasted baguette and it's divine – it would also be a good base for a Mediterranean panini or sandwich. 

Herby Eggplant Caviar – loosely based on this recipe at Food and Wine – serves 4 as a light app

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts chopped
  • 1 large roasted red bell pepper, chopped. You can roasted your own or use one good quality jarred/tinned pepper.
  • 2 tbsp. chopped flat leaf or curly parsley
  • 1 tbsp. basil, chiffonaded 
  • 1 tbsp. chives, chopped
  • juice and zest of one large lemon
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

– Preheat your oven to 350 F. Drizzle cut sides of  eggplant halves with 1 tbsp. olive oil and place them face down on a cookie sheet. Roast for about one hour or until the outside skin gets puckery and tender. Allow them to cool completely. 

– Heat remaining tbsp. of olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add chopped green onion and cook for 1-2 minutes until soft. Add garlic and continue to cook for 1-2 more minutes – you want the garlic cooked, not brown. Add in chopped roasted red pepper and continue to saute. With a spoon, scoop out the cooked flesh of the eggplant halves and add to pan. You can break it up as it heats with your spatula or a wooden spoon. You don't want it smooth but you don't want enormous chunks, either.

– Heat the mixture through until soft but not mushy – 4 to 5 minutes. Put mixture in mixing bowl and add lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley, chives, and basil. Taste and then add salt and pepper to your liking. Place in covered container to chill slightly – I would say 30 minutes to overnight. If you store this mixture overnight, allow to come up to just below room temperature. Serve with toasted bread or pita points. 


Patti Davis Oct 21, 2009 10:10 am

Tami, how is the bitterness factor? The last time I made baba ganoush it was terribly bitter. Any tips?

tami Oct 21, 2009 02:10 pm

There was no bitterness to my recipe at all. It got enough acid and herbs and flavors going on in it that if it IS there, I didn’t notice it.
– t*

Zoë François Oct 22, 2009 12:10 am

I adore eggplant and this is a stunning dish, it will go perfectly with the pita I just made!

tami Oct 22, 2009 12:10 pm

Thank you…and thanks for stopping by the blog. I had to go re-read your comment…YOU *MADE* PITA!?! Show-off! ;) I clearly need your book more than I realized!

Paula - bell'alimento Oct 23, 2009 07:10 am

Tami this looks fab! I HEART Eggplant & will have to try this (sadly I don’t have any homemade pitas ;)