THE CASE OF THE MISUNDERSTOOD NIGHTSHADE
From what I've observed, eggplants are hard to figure out. They have a squishy texture when cooked, and soak up their surrounding flavors like a sponge- rendering them utterly flavorless if you don't use a heavy hand with your arsenal of spices. In a way they're the underdog. Sans a token cheesy eggplant parmesan dish, the oddly shaped vegetable leaves us scratching our heads, begging the question- what on earth am I going to do with you, you silly, silly vegetable?
Well, I'm here to answer that question. Oftentimes creativity is borne out of strict constraint. I made myself a bet (literal proof of my funemployment and loneliness)- make brilliant eggplants, make them delicious, make them different, make them flavorful, make them bold.
I flexed my creative muscles and came up with four ways to use your eggplants as a platform for insanely delicious flavors. The recipes listed below are hearty, and can stand alone as a main dish. Happy eggplanting!
- The Renaissance Eggplant: Fennel frond pesto & parsley bruschetta
- Smash a Lentil Eggplant: Smashed yellow lentils with golden raisins and feta
- Dull to Dill Eggplant: smokey carrot hummus with dill and yogurt
- Bibimplant: sesame quinoa with kimchi, soft boiled egg and black sesame
TO PREP THE EGGPLANTS
- cut the eggplant in half, lengthwise
- score the inside of the eggplant with a sharpe knife in a grid pattern
- salt the eggplants for 5 mins, dab the excess moisture off the eggplants
- prepare the spice rub
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tbs. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. chipotle powder (or paprika)
- brush the mixture on the eggplants, be liberal!
The Renaissance Eggplant
- 1/4 cup of fennel fronds, chopped
- 1/2 cup of parsley
- 1 cup of olive oil
- 1/4 cup of parmesan
- 1/4 cup nuts of choice (I used cashews)
- 1/2 cup heirloom tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tbs. salt + pepper
- 1/4 cup of scallions, chopped
- 2 tbs. garlic
Bake the eggplant at 425 for 45 mins, or until the flesh is squishy. Meanwhile, put the fennel fronds, 1/4 cup of parsley, 1/2 cup of olive oil, salt, pepper, parm and nuts in a food processor and pulse.
Put the tomatoes, remaining parsley, scallions, garlic, salt and pepper, and remaining olive oil in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 mins.
Once the eggplants come out of the oven, top with pesto and bruschetta.
Smash a Lentil
- 1 cup of yellow lentils
- 1/2 cup of golden raisins
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup of scallions, chopped
- 1/2 cup of feta
Bake the eggplant at 425 for 45 mins, or until the flesh is squishy. Meanwhile, put the lentils with 2 cups of water on the stove top over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 mins, or until mixture is mushy. Add the salt, raisins and scallions and let mixture sit for 20 mins until the raisins are hydrated.
Once the eggplant comes out of the oven, top with lentil mixture and feta.
Dull to Dill
- 3 cups of carrots, chopped
- olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 can of chickpeas
- 1/2 squeezed lemon
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup of tahini
- 1 tsp. dill chopped
- 1 tbs. yogurt
Bake the eggplant at 425 for 45 mins, or until the flesh is squishy. Meanwhile, put the carrots on a cookie sheet with spices and olive oil, roast in oven at 425 for 35 mins. When the carrots are done, put in food processor with chickpeas, lemon, tahini, olive oil and salt + pepper. Mix until creamy.
Once the eggplant comes out of the oven, top with carrot hummus and yogurt. Garnish with dill.
- 1 cup of quinoa
- 2 cups of water
- 1 tsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 tsp. maple syrup
- your favorite kimchi (I used Hex Ferments)
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. black sesame seeds
Bake the eggplant at 425 for 45 mins, or until the flesh is squishy. Meanwhile, put the quinoa and water on a pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Once it's boiling, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 20 mins. When the quinoa is finished cooking, add the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and maple syrup.
Bring a separate saucepan with water to a boil. Add an egg and cook for exactly 4.5 mins. When the egg is ready, let it cool outside of the water, shell the egg, and cut in half.
When the eggplant is ready, top with quinoa, kimchi soft boiled egg and black sesame.