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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Misunderstood Aubergine

Eggplant is such a beautiful vegetable!  It's got that beautiful, glossy, royal purple color!  Too bad it's so bitter, right?  Wrong!  If prepared and cooked properly, eggplant is quite delicious.  First, wash and slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch discs.

Lay these out on your cutting board and sprinkle with salt on both sides.

Stack them in a colander to drain.  You can see the water beginning to be drawn out of them. 

After about 20 minutes, gently squeeze with your palms to remove excess liquid.  Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. 

Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350°.  You can keep the baked eggplant in the refrigerator for two weeks in a tightly sealed container.

The baked eggplant can be used in a stacked sandwich or you can make Ratatouille.  Little children might be tempted to eat their vegetables if they like the movie.  :)

Here's a stacked sandwich on whole wheat artisan bread.  Toast the bread and drizzle with olive oil.  Layer on baked eggplant, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, and cheese.  (I used Gouda.)  Put under the broiler until cheese is melted.  Oh, my!  It was delicious!

Ratatouille Provencal
(Eggplant Casserole)
2-1/2 cups diced eggplant
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 cups thinly sliced onions
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup pitted black olives (whole)
4 small julienned green peppers (2 large)
   seeds and membrane removed
3 cups zucchini in 1/2 inch slices
2 cups canned tomatoes (or fresh, peeled)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil OR oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish:  Cultured sour cream or freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Heat a deep skillet and add olive oil and onions.  Saute until onions are golden.

Meanwhile, prepare the rest of your vegetables.  To easily peel garlic, place garlic on cutting board.

Place wide chef's type knife flat on garlic with sharp edge pointing away from you.

Whack the knife with the heal of your hand to crush the garlic.

This will "pop" the skin on the garlic and it can be easily removed. 

The garlic itself is still in pretty good shape, but ready for a rough chop for our Ratatouille!

Slice the green pepper and zucchini.

Stir it all into the pot with the sauteed onions. 

Roughly chop your roasted eggplant.

Chop your basil or oregano (I've tried this recipe with each and both are yummy.)  Dried oregano can be used if you don't have fresh, but basil just has to be fresh. 

Stir in the eggplant and herbs.  Add about a half teaspoon of salt (remember there was salt on the eggplant, so go easy) and some freshly ground black pepper.  Drizzle on a little more olive oil.  Bring to a simmer.

At this point your Ratatouille will smell awful.  I don't know how else to put it.  You will wonder why you thought it would be good. You will wonder if you've done something terribly wrong.  Your family may start surreptitiously looking for pizza coupons.  I can tell you from experience that you just have to trust centuries of French chefs.  This stuff will be transformed by the cooking process!  Simmer for 45 minutes with a lid on.  Remove the lid and simmer for an additional 15 minutes to reduce the liquid.  At this point you can taste for seasoning and add a little more salt if needed.

Just like magic, everything will have melded together into a pot of creamy, fabulous yumminess.  Now your Ratatouille smells like it should!  Serve with a dollop of sour cream, or with a generous grating of Parmesan cheese.  I like to have the leftovers piled on top of toasted bruschetta, with parmesan grated over it all.  :)


  1. I have not tried to cook eggplant ever! I might now...both of these recipes appeal to me.

  2. I'll have to give these "healthy" recipes a try since zucchini season will hopefully soon be here and I do like eggplant. Fresh basil, yum!
    Thanks for the post

  3. The bread shown in the sandwich on this post is from a piece done way back in February 2009 on "No Knead Bread." It's a super easy recipe that a 6-year-old could make - except for the hot oven part. I used half whole wheat flour and half white and let it rise for 24 hours.