Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

14.12.11

Eggplant romance.

Research* shows that eggplants have the longest storage at home to shelf life ratio. They don't last, but we never get around to using them. There is a scientifically valid reason for this, confirmed by the same research: eggplants are much more attractive than kohlrabi, celeriac or swedes; because they are shiny and have a voluptuous bulbous shape and colour, and no strange hair. Your eyes lock onto them across the greengrocer and it's instant attraction, like at a party. I've bought more eggplants on impulse than any of those others, or beetroots or turnips or even bitter melon, which looks like something off the side of a cigarette pack's government health warning. Go on, image-google it.

So when you buy an eggplant, you have to cook it. You can't refrigerate it because they don't like being cold. Here's what I did with my last eggplant.

Slice a large eggplant or more smaller ones and bake the slices for twenty minutes. I don't bother with salting and rinsing them. Throw them in the blender - unpeeled - with the juice of a lemon, two large cloves of garlic roughly cut, a tablespoon of tahini, the same amount of olive oil and seven leaves of fresh mint (which right now is just shooting up in the old concrete washtub. Get out the mint recipes!)

Process minimally. Why minimally? This substance, often called baba ghannouj - or one of a hundred spelling variations - usually has the colour of papier mâché made from egg cartons. So it doesn't need its texture as well. Dicrete shards of garlic, flecks of green from the mint and strips of the aubergine peel add a robustness and texture appeal that you'll never find in a supermarket tub.

People put this on a flat plate and drag factory-made crackers through it. That's a shame. You might as well eat the eggplant mixture from the jar and give the crackers to the birds. Instead, smear it on rare steak, or pile it on potato mashed with olive oil, and top it with mint and parsley chopped together with lemon zest. Watch out, or you'll find yourself stirring it through.

*Polling of one respondent by face-to-face question.

3 comments:

Ellen said...

I love eggplant in many forms (fried in sandwiches or eggplant Parmesan, Chinese with garlic sauce, etc.) but I have never yet found a baba ghannoush (sp?) recipe I've liked. They all taste smokey/patchouli like and gross to me. ;( I'm always disappointed because I'm happy with simple grilled eggplant, too.

kitchen hand said...

Eggplant is more versatile than most people realise. It can soak up a lot of oil, however.

White Dove said...

Lovely recipe KH....
I had about 60 beautiful globular egg plants from a plant approx one metre high in the period of a year.....Every time I thought it had finished bearing, I would cut it back in the hope it might produce just one more...and it did, time and time again,until exhausted it finally gave up the ghost.
In anticipation of this, I had already planted a new variety of eggplant and it was starting to look so great with blossoms appearing and long pendulous fruit starting to form.
Early one morning watering the veggie patch I noticed the new plant had been snapped off at the base....retribution perhaps?