Here are some lovely babies that grew in my garden this year and last.
|Early summer, the eggplants are just peeping out their little heads.|
|They come in so many shapes and sizes.|
|If you listen hard enough, you can hear them giggle as you lift the leaves.|
Eggplants are native to the Indian Subcontinent, which includes the countries of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Wherever I've traveled (unfortunately never to these countries -- yet) I've always sought out the markets to stare blissfully at the eggplants and the hot peppers (a post for another day). France was no exception. I lived there for 9 months back in my early twenties and knew them there as "aubergine," which builds off the french word "alberge," which is an apricot. Like apricots, eggplants are fruit, though we often lump them into the vegetable category. They're also in a class of fruits called "nightshades," which I purposely never looked up because I love the romantic images it conjures up and don't want the scientific information to mar up my poetic thoughts. In English-speaking countries, we came up with the name eggplant, since several varieties do resemble the eggs of a chicken.
Last year, I had the best intentions to cook up my healthy harvest. Alas, it was one of the many fun tasks I never found time to do. And they all ultimately found their way to the compost pile. "NOT THIS SUMMER!" I vowed. And true to my word, I tried a very simple recipe which kept me satisfied all summer and allowed my crop to escape waste: grilled eggplant.
I feel funny even posting it because it's so darned simple. But I feel it's my responsibility to share because it's died-and-gone-to-Heaven-good. Though Ryan still does not enjoy eggplant (it's a texture thing for him, I think) he has often been good enough to grill the eggplant for me, as grilling is one of his summer pleasures.
The eggplant we grew was typically long and slender, so we could just make one slice in the center and they were ready. If you have a larger eggplant, I'd recommend slicing them into 3/4 inch-wide pieces.
Then you can paint them with some olive oil on both sides. (I'm continuing with the living painting analogy here.)
|It's hard here for me to focus on the eggplant, when my favorite person is looking so camera-ready.|
Throw on some kosher/sea salt and pepper all over them.
And then you throw them on the grill. I think it was a medium-ish heat. Just grill each side a few minutes until it starts to look cooked. You want the inside to be soft.
Here's the final product, ready to eat, skin and all. My mouth is watering looking at this. When you bit into it, the eggplant kind of melts in your mouth and has a very round, satisfying taste that pleases the whole palette.
We (I) enjoyed the eggplant for dinner with a salad that came from the garden (except for the canned cannellini beans), corn on the cob, rice with peanut/tahini sauce, and Swiss chard (cooked up with a teensy bit of oil, lots of garlic, barely a brush of salt, and some cider vinegar splashed in at the end).
What are some old stand-bys in your routine?