Friday, November 28, 2008

What's not to love about eggplant?

Personally, they're one of my favourite items in the grocery aisle, at least to look at. Not entirely from taste: I've had some really bitter ones, and those aren't great. But they are such a beautiful colour and their shape is also very appealing. What do you do with them? Here are a couple of options for you to get started with this intriguing fruit (yeah, I know, everyone thinks of them as a vegetable, but technically, and I am a science geek, they are fruit).

Baba Ganoush (my version of it, at any rate!)

1 - 3 eggplants (one really large one or 3 really small ones; or something in between!)
2 small golden zucchini squashes
(1 or 2 ripe tomatoes, if you have any)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
dash of hot sauce
pinch of kosher (or better yet, grey sea) salt

Steam the eggplant(s) and zucchini in the microwave: poke them repeatedly with a fork to allow the steam to escape them, and place rinsed fruit on a paper towel lined microwave safe dish. Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes, rotate the zucchini & eggplant so that a different surface is up, and microwave again. Repeat until softened. Scoop the contents of the eggplants into a food processor, chop up the zucchini into food processor, and add the remaining ingredients. Pulse the mixture until its paste-like. Serve with pita wedges or tortilla chips.

Eggplant Casserole

1 large eggplant
1 cup garbanzo beans, cooked
1 cup salsa (I used our home-made tomatillo salsa verde, and it was great)
1 tbsp tahini
2 tsp tamari sauce
1 cup grated aged cheddar cheese
(sprinkling of cornmeal for topping)

Cut eggplant lengthwise in 1/4" thick slices. Microwave in microwave-safe dish until slices are softened (about 4-6 minutes on high; rotate the slices mid-way through cooking to cook evenly). Place cooked garbanzo beans, salsa, tahini and tamari into a food processor and pulse until well blended and the garbanzo beans are chopped and somewhat mashed (but not total paste). Lay half of the softened slices of eggplant in a baking dish, spoon half the garbanzo bean mix in a layer on top of the eggplant slices, and sprinkle half of the grated cheddar cheese. Layer the remaining eggplant, then garbanzo bean mix, then cheese. Sprinkle cornmeal for topping if desired. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and centre of dish is heated right through.

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