‘It’s the sound that is made when the eggplant explodes,’ I tell my kids, anticipating the moment on the stove top. ‘Why else wrap it so tightly in foil?’
So they waited, slightly outside the kitchen — just in case.
I resort to these tactics to keep them out of my new kitchen. Sometimes, I just like to be in it all to myself. Once they realize that the eggplant never really explodes per se, we are back to bumping butts and sharing spaces. They never like it when Mom is pulling their chain.
Eggplant is neither an egg nor a plant. Like the tomato and capsicum (bell pepper), aubergine is the fruit of a particular variety of the nightshade family of plants. In fact, it is really just a misunderstood berry.
And quite a healthy one at that.
Watching the reaction of fellow Texans as I shop for eggplant at the grocery is just fun. ‘What the heck do you do with that vegetable?’ they’ll ask me, or ‘How do you know you’ve got the best one?’ After all, to pay $2.50 for a single fruit, you’d better know what you plan on doing with it.
This little beauty — a Black Beauty variety, in fact — is prized overseas, a staple in Mediterranean cooking and Middle Eastern cuisine. The recipe at the bottom, Baba Ganouj literally translates to ‘Spoiled Father.’ I like to call it Spoiled Mother.
Earlier this year, before the remodel was underway, I planted six Black Beauties in several places in the yard. There was nothing vested, save the $6 six-pack and the work required prepping (a/k/a/ throwing on compost and mulch) and I figured that like the tomatoes and peppers seedlings I’ve planted in the past, they should establish fairly quickly.
That same remodel had us out of our home five months following, leaving everything in the garden to endure triple digit temperatures in the hottest, driest months of a Texas summer. Those plants shouldn’t have made it through the scorching summer without me.
Oh, I do love being wrong sometimes.
Today, I picked our very last eggplant fruit. Since March, those six plants cranked out more than 50 beautiful little black beauties, half of which I gave away (I could only eat so much!). On the up side, they didn’t need me at all. On the down side, I wasn’t quite prepared with an aubergine recipe arsenal. It’s safe to say my family is most definitely tired of grilled eggplant.
Grilling or roasting on high heat (500-degree broiler oven) is the easiest way to prepare. I chose to grow the dark-skinned varieties because the skins contain nasunin — a brain food phytonutrient — and are particularly tasty to me. The crispiness of a grilled eggplant skin pairs well with its mushy, soft flesh.
Aside from the skin’s added brain power, which I could always use, look what other treasures the eggplant holds:
- High in potassium – regulates blood pressure and helps in proper hydration
- High in manganese – good for the bones
- Contains the phytonutrient nasunin – aids in several processes to fight free-radicals in the body
- Contains nicotine – (Can you say ‘addiction?’ Yes, I can.)
I’ll admit that my absolute favorite (and naughty) way to eat eggplant is breaded and fried. I like to do the double-dip. That is, I dip in plant milk, then dip in flour, then dip in milk again, and, lastly, dredge through whatever outside crust (pangko, stale bread, etc.) I happen to have on hand. It’s lovely for the palette, but it’s really more trouble than it’s worth.
Enter baba ganouj (pronouced BA-bah ga-NOOSH). A Lebanese friend tells me to cook the eggplant right on an open flame. Brilliant and easy, I tell ya. Creamy like a chick pea hummus — but with a nice flavor and added health benefits.
And no explosions in the kitchen are required to get there either. Enjoy!
Baba Ganouj (VEGAN!)
Literally translated ‘Spoiled Father,’ this quick and easy hummus made with an easily-grown summer yard fruit is good for the body too.
- One large, whole eggplant (skin on)
- 2 tbsp tahini (sesame seed butter)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves of fresh garlic, pressed
- squeeze of lemon juice, to taste
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Prick the eggplant with a fork a few times and wrapped in three pieces of tin foil. Roast on an open burner flame just five minutes each side, turning four times until the whole thing is rather mushy.
- Once cooled, scoop out the mushy insides into a food processor and discard the skin.
- Add all the additional ingredients and pulse until smooth.
- Serve with chips, pita, or bread slices. Be sure Dad gets some!
~ Shannon @ DirtNKids Blog