I once called kale a “a real broad,” and got to thinking recently how eggplant reminds me of a dark, mysterious stranger.
If eggplant were a person, he’d be Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. He’s smooth, and the ladies love him, but you really don’t know what to make of him. He has many personalities and can transform from a bitter, almost hysterical creature to a soft easy lover with surprising speed. He can he strong, he can be mushy, but either way, you’ll keep coming back for more.
Here are three ways to keep your dysfunctional relationship with Heathcliff from ruining your sanity. They all begin with the same technique, by getting him under control and ready to accept that you are the boss.
For that, we need a little fire.
Grill your eggplant.
To begin, find a nice fat eggplant which is firm with unmarred skin. Get two if the eggplant is smallish. Cut off the top and bottom. Peel. Slice into inch thick round “steaks.” Paint both sides generously with olive oil. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Set steaks on a piping hot grill. Leave them for three minutes, then check for doneness. A little char is okay, and you definitely want to see grill marks. When you do, flip eggplant and repeat.
Grilled Eggplant and Pineapple with Teriyaki Sauce
Prepare eggplant as instructed above, but hold off on the actual grilling. Put together your teriyaki sauce. You’ll also need one fresh pineapple.
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
Juice of two oranges
2 tsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
Combine all and heat through in a saucepan. Slice pineapple into rings. Grill eggplant and pineapple at the same time. The pineapple only needs two minutes per side. Stack pineapple rings on top of eggplant and drizzle on teriyaki sauce.
Serve over jasmine rice with the extra sauce on the side. These exotic yet homey flavors will surprise and delight you.
Grilled Eggplant with Almond Au Jus
Prepare eggplant as instructed above. Slice one red onion into thin circles.
For Au Jus, you’ll need:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tbl balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup almonds, ground
Mix all in ingredients together in a bowl. Place eggplant steaks in a high rimmed baking dish. Pour over half the marinade. Place onions on top of eggplant steaks. Pour over the rest of the marinade. Bake at 350 for half an hour. Serve over brown rice or quinoa.
This is a hearty dish with great umami notes—perfect for the beginning vegan or the resistant carnivore.
Grilled Eggplant with Broiled Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives
You will need:
2-3 large tomatoes, cut into nice thick slices, and then halved
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
dried oregano to taste
salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves pressed garlic
1 cup vegan mozzarella cheese + more to taste
Prepare eggplant as instructed above, but add dried oregano to season steaks before grilling.
Place grilled eggplant on a baking sheet. Top each steak with enough tomatoes to cover it. Drizzle with olive oil and add more salt, pepper and oregano to taste. Put chopped Kalamata olives on top of the tomatoes. Add a few dots of pressed garlic on the olives.
Top each stack with enough cheese to cover it. Bake at 350 for half an hour. Turn oven to broil and cook until the cheese is brown and melty.
Serve with fresh basil leaves scattered on top.
For a fancier more decadent presentation, stack each steak with two layers of the tomatoes, olives, garlic and cheese. Add five to ten minutes to the cooking time.
This is a wonderful seasonal recipe, and tastes best in August and September when you can get peak tomatoes and eggplant locally at the same time. Great to serve to guests, and can be prepared prior to baking up to 24 hours in advance, leaving you free to entertain. Just pop it in the oven a half hour before you want to eat, and you’re good to go.
Don’t let the stoic facade of an eggplant fool you. Underneath that dark visage is a guy who really wants some romance.
Get ready to fall in love.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise
Photo: via Pinterest