The CSA Challenge, Part II: Eggplant

14 Nov


I used to really dislike eggplant, despite my wish to really like it.  Part of my dislike had to do with only being exposed to store-bought eggplant, which is often large and bitter (the larger your eggplant, the more bitter it will be.)  Also, enjoying eggplant really depends on how you prepare it.  My conclusion after trying various ways of preparing eggplant is that it’s got to be roasted/baked into oblivion.  My favorite eggplant dishes include Imam bayildi, a typical Turkish dish of very soft roasted eggplant stuffed with vegetables and doused in olive oil, baba ganoush, eggplant parmesan, and ratatouille.  All of these involve oven roasting your eggplant until very soft.  With eggplant I got in my CSA box, I made two dishes:  baba ganoush and a vegan eggplant parmesan.  The baba ganoush recipe is my own, the eggplant parmesan is adapted from a recipe on the Fat Free Vegan website (link provided).  I changed up some of the ingredients and rewrote the instructions according to how I actually made the dish. I used the lighter colored eggplant for the baba ganoush, and the darker for the eggplant parmesan, though these are certainly interchangeable.

Recipe #1:  Baba Ganoush

Aside from eating spoonfuls of this magical, addictive dip, my favorite way to eat this is on toasted whole grain bread with plenty of seeds. 

Ingredients

1 large eggplant or 2 medium (I used one medium and 2 small)

Olive oil for brushing the eggplant, plus 3 T as an ingredient for the dip

2 cloves garlic, peeled

Juice of one lemon

2 T tahini

Handful (about 1/3 cup) fresh parsley

1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste

Method

First, cook the eggplant.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  While the oven heats, place the eggplants on a cookie sheet or glass baking dish.  Split the eggplants down the middle, both vertically and horizontally.  Brush the eggplant with olive oil, on all sides.  When the oven is heated, bake the eggplant for about 30 minutes, until very soft.

Next, scrape the flesh out of the skins using a spoon.  I ended up with about one cup of flesh.

Now, you are ready to make the final product.  Place the eggplant and the remaining ingredients in a food processor.  Process until smooth.  Taste, and add additional salt if necessary.  Makes about 1 1/2 cups of baba ganoush.

Recipe #2:  Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

Note: This recipe says to salt the eggplant.  I skipped this step because my eggplants were smaller and I knew they were unlikely to be bitter.  If you use a large eggplant, particularly store-bought eggplant, slice the eggplant, salt it, put it in a colander and place over a larger bowl or in the sink.  The salt extracts the eggplant’s liquid, and thereby helps eliminate the bitterness many eggplants have.

Ingredients

1 large eggplant, or 2 medium

1 1/2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs

Olive oil for brushing the eggplant before broiling

Tomato sauce

1 medium onion, chopped

1 T olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes with basil (or plain, adding 1 tsp dried basil to the sauce)

1/2 cup vegetable broth (I dissolved one cube of Rapunzel vegetable bouillon in 1 cup water in a small sauce pan over medium heat)

2 T tomato paste

Salt and pepper to taste

“Cheese” sauce

1/2 cup silken tofu (I used the boxed variety)

1/2 cup almond milk, or other non-dairy milk

1/2 cup vegetable broth

2 T cashews

1 tsp onion powder

3 T nutritional yeast (I upped this amount because I wanted a cheesier flavor)

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 or 3 twists of freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp corn starch

Method

Turn on your oven’s broiler.  Remove the eggplant stems and slice into 1/4-1/2 slices.  Place on a cookie sheet, and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Place the eggplant under the broiler for about 3 or 4 minutes, until it starts to brown, as shown below.  Remove from the oven.

Next, prepare the tomato sauce.  Heat 1 T olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  When heated, add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, sauteing for another minute or two.  Add the remaining sauce ingredients, stir until combined, and cook over medium low heat for 15-20 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking, prepare the cheese sauce.  Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and process until completely smooth.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  While the oven  heats, assemble the dish.  Use a medium-sized glass baking dish (mine was 8×11 inches).  Place half the eggplant slices in the bottom of the pan.  Top with half the bread crumbs, evenly coating the eggplant layer.  Next, spread half the tomato sauce over the eggplant and bread crumbs.  Pour over half the cheese sauce.

Repeat these layer once more, reserving some of the bread crumbs to top the eggplant parmesan.  Bake uncovered for about 25-30 minutes, until the top is a bit browned.  Allow to cool about 10 minutes and serve.

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3 Responses to “The CSA Challenge, Part II: Eggplant”

  1. Michelle @ Find Your Balance November 15, 2010 at 4:49 pm #

    Ooh I love eggplant any which way :-) And these look great!

  2. whathappensafter5 November 17, 2010 at 4:19 am #

    I really dislike eggplant STILL and it really bothers me because I WANT to like it so badly! Maybe one of these recipes will finally make it right!!

    happensafterfive.wordpress.com

    • artripp November 17, 2010 at 3:09 pm #

      It took me a good 5 years to really be able to say I like eggplant, but I got there! Roasting into oblivion is totally the key.

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