After a disastrous eggplant recipe that featured the new-to-me vegetable in a slow cooker lasagna – one of the few meals in the history of our marriage that my husband reminded me we simply did not eat and even gave away the leftovers – I avoided eggplant like the plague for years.
We got a few tiny eggplants in our CSA box last summer, and I ignored each one in the fridge for a few weeks before guiltily included it, finely chopped, into various stir fries, soups and casseroles, just to get rid of them. They even got a mention in my eBook Better Than a Box as I described that process.
That’s why when I brought home a rather large eggplant from the Farmer’s Market last week, my husband raised his eyebrows.
“What’s that?” he asked indignantly.
“Eggplant,” I meekly squeaked. “I couldn’t help it – they were so pretty, and so cheap! 33 cents!”
I have an impulse control problem like that, but luckily it seems to exclusively kick in at the Farmer’s Market.
Now What to do with the Eggplant?
It’s a problem I run into more often than you’d think – I have this vegetable in my crisper drawer, now what?
After a little help from the KS Facebook community, I gave eggplant a shot, and not as a hidden, finely chopped part of a larger dish.
I went all the way to an eggplant-centric side dish, surprising everyone.
I held out a piece toward my husband, saying, “Try this.”
(This also happens more than one would think, and he’s understandably skeptical, but a very good sport.)
What is it?”
“It’s better than you’d expect, isn’t it?” I crowed gleefully.
“Well, I think so. It’s not bad. But…what is it?”
Yes. Now I really am surprised…”
Want the secret?
Eggplant Recipe for People who don’t like Eggplant
Step one: Wash and slice the eggplant very thinly. I didn’t use a mandoline, and I don’t know that you’d want quite paper thin slices, but about 1/8-inch should be perfect.
Step two: Salt the eggplant slices generously (at least 1/4 tsp.) and allow to sit for 30 minutes. I did it in layers in a bowl, salting each layer like this:
Step three: After the 30 minutes, liquid will have been drawn out of the eggplant, and with it, any bitter taste (and yucky taste!) from the vegetable:
Pour that off and preheat a large cast iron skillet or griddle. My newest favorite cooking gadget is my huge cast iron griddle (here on Amazon) but that I got at Mighty Nest, where they’re giving 15% of your purchase back to your elementary schools right now (use code “stewardship” for 10% off!). I have also found that using this fish spatula makes for easy flipping.
Step four: Grease the surface, and over medium-low heat, lay out a single layer of the eggplant slices.
Step five: Brush the top side lightly with extra virgin olive oil.
Step six: When the underside is browning like this after about 2-3 minutes, flip each slice:
Step seven: Using a microplane grater, get as much finely shredded Parmesan cheese as you can on top of each slice. Don’t worry if a bunch gets on the cooking surface.
Step eight: Continue cooking until the bottom browns and the cheese is melted, another 2-3 minutes.
Remove to a plate and eat warm. Don’t tell people what they’re eating if they hate eggplant.
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- Wash and slice the eggplant very thinly, about 1/8″ each.
- Salt the eggplant slices generously and allow to sit for 30 minutes. (Use at least 1/4 tsp. salt for a large eggplant, if not more. Open your shaker up to the “big holes!”)
- Pour the liquid off and preheat a large cast iron skillet or griddle to medium low.
- Grease the surface and lay out a single layer of the eggplant slices.
- Brush the top side lightly with extra virgin olive oil.
- When the underside is browning lightly after about 2-3 minutes, flip each slice.
- Using a microplane grater, shred as much Parmesan cheese as you can on top of each slice.
- Continue cooking until the bottom browns and the cheese is melted, another 2-3 minutes.
- Remove to a plate and serve warm. Don’t tell people what they’re eating if they hate eggplant.
* I recommend making this dish only with very fresh eggplant.
* Do not skip the salting/waiting part!
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Harness that local, fresh produce for as long as you can! Here are some other favorite summer produce recipes:
- Sausage Zucchini Bake
- Canned Restaurant-Style Salsa
- Lacto-Fermented (& canned) Crunchy Pickles
- Sausage Bean and Kale Soup
- Spaghetti Squash Lasagna (this season should be beginning any time now!)
- Things I always freeze (if you can’t use it, preserve it!)
- How to Preserve Apples (after last year’s abysmal apple season, I cannot wait!)