Tuesday Open Thread ~ In a World of Purple Eggplants
You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients. ~ Julia Child
Welcome to Tuesday's Open Thread. Over the past few weeks I've been cooking with a lot of different vegetables trying to keep my meals interesting and healthy. Finding new ways to add taste without a lot of calories (while at the same time avoiding sugar, grains, and dairy) has been a journey of trial and error. This was especially true when it came to eggplants. A vegetable I haven't had much luck with in the kitchen until I finally hit on a technique and a seasoning combination that worked well. Super easy to make and filled with flavor, I really hope you'll enjoy making, and eating, this dish as much as I do.
If Only Eggplants Could Talk...
Almost purple-black in color with a glossy sheen and a distinctive shape, the eggplant has garnered its share of fascination. Once thought of as an aphrodisiac in 5th century China, fashionable Chinese women also used the eggplant for a black dye to stain their teeth so they could polish them until they shone like metal. During the Renaissance, eggplants were called the “mad apple” because people thought eating them would cause insanity. Part of the nightshade family, eggplants were often associated with belladonna, a poisonous plant that was deadly when ingested. Originating from India, the eggplant migrated to the United States in the early 1800’s. Introduced by a relative of Thomas Jefferson, Mary Randolph published a recipe book in 1824 titled “The Virginia Housewife", where the eggplant enjoyed a rapturous welcome among the colonists in America.
As fascinating as the eggplant's 4,000 year old history has been, when presented on my plate, I found the grey looking vegetable less than appealing. Breaded, pan fried, and topped with melted cheese and marinara sauce, I was a bit underwhelmed by my meal. Fast forward 10 years, where I tasted a dish called “Baingan ka Bharta” at a family style restaurant in Southall, London. A punjabi take on the eggplant, the flavors of cumin, ginger, garlic and onions made my taste buds stand at attention and ask, “This is eggplant?” Indeed it was, and so began my love of eggplant and Indian cooking. The trick was trying to bring that magic into my kitchen.
Roasted Spiced Eggplant
1 large Eggplant
3 Tbl. of Olive Oil
1 garlic clove
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. curry powder
- Preheat oven to 400F degrees
- Slice eggplant in half lengthwise, then quarter lengthwise, then slice the quarters in half (you should have 16 wedges)
- Place eggplant slices in large bowl with 1 tablespoon of salt, mix thoroughly, and set aside for 30 minutes (this will draw out the moisture and the bitterness)
- After 30 minutes, rinse off eggplant and pat dry
- Place eggplant pieces, skin side down, in a roasting pan that is lightly greased or lined with parchment paper
- In a small bowl, whisk together oil, garlic, ginger, cumin, and curry
- Brush eggplant with olive oil mixture covering all the slices
- Roast in oven for 25-30 minutes until soft and lightly browned.
(Left-overs can be frozen and re-heated)
Meanwhile, in Someone Else's Kitchen
Back in the early 1970's,The Galloping Gourmet was a very popular cooking show featuring Graham Kerr. Known for his humor, kitchen antics, and the copious amount of butter and cream he liked to use, Kerr was infinitely watchable. At least, my Mother certainly thought so. Here's a snippet of something that goes wrong, and the almost Monty Pythonesque response to it.