Tuesday Open Thread ~ In a World of Purple Eggplants


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You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients. ~ Julia Child

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OT- Eggplant - shutterstock photo_0.jpg
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Good Morning!

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.

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OT- Eggplant - talking eggplant_0.jpg
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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.

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OT- Eggplant - mary randolph recipe book_0.jpg
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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.

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OT- Eggplant - spices of indiajpg.jpg
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Roasted Spiced Eggplant

Ingredients
1 large Eggplant
3 Tbl. of Olive Oil
1 garlic clove
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. curry powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees
  2. Slice eggplant in half lengthwise, then quarter lengthwise, then slice the quarters in half (you should have 16 wedges)
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    OT- Eggplant - Cutting Eggplant 4.jpg
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  4. 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)
  5. After 30 minutes, rinse off eggplant and pat dry
  6. Place eggplant pieces, skin side down, in a roasting pan that is lightly greased or lined with parchment paper
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, garlic, ginger, cumin, and curry
  8. Brush eggplant with olive oil mixture covering all the slices
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    OT- Eggplant - Before roasting.jpg
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  10. Roast in oven for 25-30 minutes until soft and lightly browned.

Serves 4
(Left-overs can be frozen and re-heated)

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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.

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Well, that about wraps things up for this week's edition.
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What’s on your mind today?
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Anja Geitz's picture

Hello! How is everyone doing today?

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Raggedy Ann's picture

That eggplant recipe looks yummy! I'll need to give it a try ~ thanks for sharing.

I hope you are not in a place near the wildfires. I'm headed to CA on Friday for a few days to visit my brother. He's down in San Diego, so relatively safe. My brother in Ventura is the one I worry about as there was a fire nearby last year.

Beautiful fall days is the theme around these parts.

Have a lovely Tuesday, everyone! Pleasantry

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“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

Anja Geitz's picture

@Raggedy Ann

But there have been times in the past when my neighborhood was dusted with a light ash and you could smell the smoke in the air for days. Not a good feeling.

Enjoy your visit to San Diego. If you go to the Zoo, they have a new primate there. Sweet story: https://zoonooz.sandiegozoo.org/zoonooz/tiny-survivor/

Glad you enjoyed the recipe!

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

I switched years ago from elaborate recipes to very simple meals of fresh meat, vegetables, and fruit, cooked in the healthiest way I can manage, and I concentrate more on the complimentary aspect of the foods. What are the vegetables and salads that best compliment each other, or the meat?
Must get ready for work.
Have a lovely day, one and all!

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Anja Geitz's picture

@on the cusp

I am in the same place right now with regards to meal planning. Makes things simple in one way, challenging in another since I don't rely on many of the ingredients I usually do to give my meals flavor. The good news is, every so often I surprise myself with the combinations I do come up with. Last night, I bought zucchini which I will spiralize and pair with some seafood and TJ's kale pesto. I'm also going to try out a new turkey meatball recipe my Sister gave me, where instead of using eggs and breadcrumbs to bind them, I'll use a basic mirepoix, put it all together in the food processor, and mix it up good. Meatballs are great to make ahead of time because they freeze well. I'll probably pair them with either a stir fry bokchoy and portobello mushrooms, or a vegetable soup! Yum!

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Thanks for the recipe...it looks good.

We cook a fair amount of eggplant. I make an eggplant soup that we like....it is green though, which puts some people off :-). I roast 2 good sized eggplants and char the skin either on the grill or in the oven. It gives the eggplant a nice mellow flavor. Then I take the charred skin off and freeze the eggplants. I love to freeze things ahead of time that way you only have to thaw it and cook it and your meal hardly takes any time at all.

I love Indian food as well, the spices are completely amazing. Indian food is very labor intensive though. Making an Indian meal can gobble up your whole day. My solution to that is to make the meal in a stepwise fashion and freeze everything that I can ahead of time. I will make a big batch of curry sauce and freeze it in meal sized batches. You can also chop up and stir-fry any meat and some vegetables and freeze that. Then I will grind the spices a day or so in advance and make my yogurt sauce the day of the meal. Basically all you have to do is assemble all your ingredients on the day of the meal and it is so much more enjoyable.

Mid-eastern cooking has amazing eggplant recipes as does Chinese cooking. I think eggplant cooked in the Sezchuan style is one of my favorite ways to eat eggplant.

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Anja Geitz's picture

@randtntx

Very labor intensive. It's akin, really, to preparing French food. Smart idea about prepping and freezing ahead of time. What's your favorite Indian dish to make?

You've intrigued me about Szechuan style eggplant. Will have to start combing through recipes and ingredients. I used to eat a lot Chinese food when I was in New York, but never did a lot of cooking. Perhaps it's time to explore that a little. We certainly have enough Asian food markets in the area!

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

@Anja Geitz I have a favorite. I tend to like almost all of them. This summer though, I did make a Goan Fish Curry that we all loved. I had to repeat the dish in a chicken version and a vegetable version several times because everyone liked it. The sauce is basically coconut cream and coconut milk with a ton of spices. The sauce also has chilis in it so it is hot but it can be toned down of course according to taste. My family likes hot, spicy, food so we tend to cook towards the hot end of the chili heat spectrum.

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Anja Geitz's picture

@randtntx

Any chance you have the recipe for that? Smile

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

@Anja Geitz for Szechwanese eggplant (it calls for pork but you could leave that out and substitute another vegetable) :

2 large eggplant or 4-8 small Asian-type eggplants
1/4 lb. pork
2-3 Tbsps. finely chopped garlic (the more the better)
1 Tbsp hot bean sauce or more depending on desired heat
2 Tbsps. soy sauce (I use organic gluten free Tamari)
1/2 cup chicken or pork stock or water
2 tsps. sesame oil
3/4 cup oil
It also calls for cornstarch to thicken the sauce, but I never use that.

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Anja Geitz's picture

@randtntx

I am really eager to try this one...

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Never was the eggplant eater until later in life. One of DO and my favorites was eggplant lightly brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with italian seasoning and grilled outside and lightly sprinkled with parmesan cheese served with field peas and salad. Our comfort food meal. Find this recipe delicious sounding. Just bought some poblanos to stuff, wonder about a stuffed eggplant? Have a great week and am enjoying our beautiful fall weather. Have two walks I am helping with this week.

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Life is what you make it, so make it something worthwhile.

This ain't no dress rehearsal!

Anja Geitz's picture

@jakkalbessie

Hahahaha!

Stuffed eggplant? Now that sounds intriguing. Probably pair well with a nice Cab, don't you think? Smile

Love all the ideas I'm getting!

Enjoy the weather and the walking. I feel so fortunate to live in an area where I can enjoy nature on my walks. So life affirming and serene. Always puts me a good frame of mind.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Lookout's picture

Here's a recipes similar to the one we use...

Well, it’s basically an eggplant dip. The hero ingredient is eggplant, which gets sweet and smoky in the oven. And it’s mixed with three other pantry staple Mediterranean ingredients: fresh garlic, fresh lemon juice and tahini (sesame paste) to bind it all together. It’s basically like hummus’ lesser known cousin, but it’s just as amazing and just as easy to make!

more details at:
https://feelgoodfoodie.net/recipe/baba-ghanoush/

I like eggplant (but didn't as a kid). Your roasted recipe sounds good too. They are pretty prolific and I usually just plant a couple of plants. There are many types as your top picture illustrates.

I'm cooking chili today. Cooked my beans yesterday. I really like our new insta-pot. after pressure cooking the beans, I cleaned the pot added some of my yogurt starter and a half gallon of grass fed milk and have a pot of yogurt this morning cooling in the fridge ready to put in jars.

Well happy cooking and eating. I bought some new broccoli plants to get in today to replace the ones a groundhog ate. Thanks for the OT!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Anja Geitz's picture

@Lookout

How marvelous to be able to grow food, and then be able to eat it. Rocks this city girl's concept of being self sustainable.

Good luck with the broccoli planting. Let's hope the groundhog doesn't have any friends...

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

mimi's picture

what to do with an eggplant and basically gave up cooking with them. Now, you certainly changed my mind today and I will try your recipes.

I don't buy eggplants here in Germany, but I used to grow them in my little backyard when I still lived in MD. They grew so easily. I also grew yellow squash. Easy-peasy.
Over here it's another story. I cook here too, but it all taste different and nobody likes some spicy dishes. Drives me nuts. It's all potatos, more potatos and as a desert or left-over in the evening again potatos. With eggs sunny side up. That's it.

I miss the US. At least we had a great fish market in DC and Maryland crabs, ahh ... so delicious.

BTW your pumpkin is just to die for and looking at all the advantages of eggplants to your health, I can only say, bingo, I need them all.

Be well and I hope you never give up cooking. Smile

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Anja Geitz's picture

@mimi

Fried potatoes, mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, potato pancakes, potato dumplings, potato salad, and hash browns. Although, the hash browns might've been something my German mother picked up while living here. Don't eat them much now though, but that's more a dietary consideration. I will be making a warm sweet and sour potato salad for an upcoming "Octoberfest" pot luck I'm going to. It's expected and people really do enjoy my potato salad.

Glad you enjoyed the recipe. It's rewarding to conquer cooking a food that's proved elusive in the past. And this is a very simple eggplant dish to begin with. Happy eating!

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

enhydra lutris's picture

for me, maybe with a small globe eggplant as an appetizer first. Not a fan so far, and have found most acceptable to be fairly thin slices brushed with EVOO & Garlic and then grilled over charcoal with herbs on the grill to smoke it. I keep trying it and then wondering why I keep trying, but maybe after this week's camping trip I'll give your recipe a shot.

Final packing this am for a run out to a local lake we've never stayed at to give it a try for a few days. We'll be pulling out in a couple of hours or so, and plan to return sometime Friday. That means that all I have to do is remember to look for said eggplant at farmers' market Saturday.

We had a 4.5 last night at 10:33. I was just trying to get to sleep and made a mental note that it was at least a 3 or 4 and to check in the morning. So today I find that it was 4.5 and that today is the 30th anniversary of Loma Prieta, which is a thing in this household. My wife and I were just dating and my back was way out of whack after a camping trip in the Sierras, so I had to take short walks for PT. Accordingly, we were out taking a stroll down College Av near the Berkeley - Oakland border preparatory to going to my Apt. to watch the Series and Wham! Ahhh, the good old days. Heh.

Have a good one and thanks, provisionally, for the recipe. Wink

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Anja Geitz's picture

@enhydra lutris

It's funny but when I first moved to New York it took a few months where my mind didn't automatically go to earthquake fear mode everytime I felt the vibrations from the Eighth Avenue subway rumble underneath my apartment building. Fast forward back to California when I experienced an actual earthquake and my mind went back to the Eighth Avenue subway. Wait a minute! That's no subway!

Camping sounds rustically divine. It's been so very long since I've smelled the mountains and the pine trees, and lazily looked up at a black sky filled with stars. Do you camp in tents, or do you have an RV?

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

enhydra lutris's picture

@Anja Geitz
a 19 foot ultralight hybrid (hard sided with fold out ends). We just (Sept) finally upgraded to a 20 foot light/ultralight much better suited to our age and lifestyle/camping style. It also has a boatload of "conveniences" and "features" that we are totally unaccustomed to and unacquainted with. We took it out for 3 days the day we picked it up, but still have a lot to test, figure out, and learn, so this is sort of part two of our original shakedown trip.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Anja Geitz's picture

@enhydra lutris

As much as you do. It helps because it can be a lot of work. Still, I can't think of anything I'd rather do than steal away underneath the shade of a pine tree beside a glistening lake. I'm totally envious. Have fun discovering out your new trailer! Safe travels EL.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

The last few weeks, I have been trying to deal with the end-of-season veggie avalanche from my garden, including eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, and Santa Fe Grand peppers. I sauteed a couple of large purple onions and most of a head of garlic in olive oil with local grass-fed ground beef, then filled my enormous cast iron casserole dish with diced eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms, added hickory-smoked salt, fresh oregano, thyme, and rosemary. I threw in a couple of handfuls of uncooked rice to absorb the veggie juices, stirred it all up, added the cover and baked for a couple of hours. The result freezes nicely and can be used to stuff acorn squash, zucchini, peppers, or by itself as a cheese-topped casserole.

The Galloping Gourmet video reminds me of a classic Julia Child episode when a sponge cake refused to turn out of the pan, then let go catastrophically. Julia, undaunted, caroled, "Well! Now we will make a trifle!"

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Pluto's Republic's picture

@The Breach Awaits

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The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
– Albert Camus
Anja Geitz's picture

@The Breach Awaits

I must have a very perverse mind, as soon as I read that, I pictured the scene in Indiana Jones where he's running away from the big ball, except in this case, it's tumbling zucchini.

Sounds like you've come up with some great ideas to manage that. Stuffed Peppers. Well, gosh darnit, you've inspired me to make some of my own.

Dear and now we'll make trifle Julia Smile

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Anja Geitz's picture

@lotlizard

Not exactly the same but close in spirit...

...while I was walking my deaf 14 year old cat in the garden this morning, listening to the sounds of a soft breeze and the leaves falling around me, I thought about the hearing impaired.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Pluto's Republic's picture

...I was living in Sausalito, when I was big on eggplant.

I remember simply cutting it in half, and carving deep harlequin crosshatches across the tops, all the way down to the skin without cutting through. Then I would pour on the olive oil and salt and pepper and bake it uncovered and open-faced in a hot oven for an hour or until the top began to char. Maybe 385°. Meanwhile I would prepare a bowl with cloves of garlic crushed with salt (fresh melted garlic, do you know the technique?). I also queezed a whole lemon in a glass.

After the eggplant cooled a bit, I would simply scoop it out (it was very soft) into the bowl with the garlic and mix, adding lemon juice to taste. Eggplant char always tastes smokey, even in an oven. What I don't remember is how I served it or what I ate it with. I only remember that it was simple and exotic and very delicious.

I remember one fully purple meal, as well, with radicchio, pasta, purple onions, purple flowers, tiny steamed beets and purple potatoes.

There's a cookbook in here somewhere.

Thanks for an enchanting topic, Anja.

I was there for the Big One, too.

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The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
– Albert Camus
Anja Geitz's picture

@Pluto's Republic

Have never heard of the technique with the garlic though. Will definitely try it as I do a lot of cooking with garlic, and I do happen to have a mortar and pestle.

A purple cookbook, eh? Like that idea Smile

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

wendy davis's picture

is to roast them in an open skillet on about medium heat...until they emit whisps of smoke, then remove them. i love them all, but i've been learning indian cooking for the curcumin in turmeric, which is very medicinal, including as an anti-inflammatory.

but oh! fenugreek smoke whisps! i jump on http://www.indiasnacks.com/ for hints and clues, then look for expanded versions of dishes, although it seems to be offline for some reason.

on edit: oh, bother, i'd forgotten to say that the process is known as 'blooming the spices'; enchanting, no?

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Anja Geitz's picture

@wendy davis

Oh the ideas it is giving me! I think a trip to the Indian market is gonna be on my to-do list...

Thanks so much for the suggestion about "blooming" the spices. Love that idea!

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

mhagle's picture

This one is divine as expected. I have always liked eggplant, but have never tried most of the wonderful sounding recipes listed here. When I was a kid my mom made a baked eggplant dish with saltine crackers I liked. Last time I had a good crop of those Japanese eggplants . . . skin so tender you don't need to peel. I would just chop them up and saute them with onions.

Speaking of pumpkins. I am determined to learn ways to eat them other than pie. I baked one of those mid-sized white ones a couple of weeks ago. Peeled and seeded it (those went to chickens), cut it up and put it in the freezer. My first experiment a few days ago. Cut it in small pieces with butter, cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic. It was great. Note though, that this pumpkin tastes more like winter squash then pie pumpkin.

Bought two more today of the larger orange kind and plan to bake them too.

I look at these "pumpkin patches" and to me, it is like a lot of food going to waste. Meh.

Anyway . . . cheers and good wishes to all! I-m so happy

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

Anja Geitz's picture

@mhagle

Hi Marilyn! Good to see you Smile

I love your idea about using the pumpkin for more than pie, or a decorative tableau. My Sister introduced me to pumpkin smoothies years ago, and it's a nice alternative to the usual fruit smoothie especially during autumn. Here's a recipe you might like: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/pumpkin-ginger-...

Pumpkin Patches...heh, heh, good one Marilyn. Me, I prefer my pumpkin patches less bucolic and more on the spooky side.

spooky pumpkin patch.jpg
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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Unabashed Liberal's picture

wanted to check in with you, and 'thank you' for yet another interesting and entertaining OT. Believe it or not, I actually remember the Galloping Gourmet. That was a hilarious segment--thought I was the only one who had that kinda bad luck. Biggrin

Luv all the graphics, but, especially, the 'talking' Eggplant--the color really pops. Also, glad you posted the chart of the 'benefits' of Eggplant. Very informative.

BTW, finally got around to setting a bookmark for your recipes/OT's. Now that Mr M is within weeks of full retirement, I really don't want to have to do a bookmark search, just to access your, and other C99'ers, yummy recipes and cooking tips. He doesn't know it yet, but, he'll have his work cut out for him.

(Actually, he's not only a good cook, he enjoys it. That is, when he has time--which he will, soon.)

Gotta run. Had major browser crashes earlier this evening, and spent lots of time, just posting one comment. So, need to get back to doing a couple chores that must be completed this evening.

Hey, hope you and 'the Babies' are all doing well. And, that Pierre is still enjoying walking on a leash/lead. The walks will probably brighten her day, considerably, once she becomes accustomed to it.

Take good care.

PleasantryMollie

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.
~~Gilda Radner, Comedienne

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
~~Cicero

The obstacle is the path.
~~Zen Proverb

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.