eggplant

Ratatouille Salad

Ratatouille Salad

I had all the ingredients for ratatouille, a lovely French vegetable stew. I had eggplant, tomatoes, summer squash, peppers, onions and fresh herbs. But I was in the mood for a salad. I decided to use the same ingredients that I would use for the ratatouille, but transform them into a salad. It came out quite nice. I could see serving it on toasted bread, or using it like a dip. It reminded me of caponata, in a way.

I decided to cook the eggplant and onion, but leave the rest of the vegetables raw. I also decided to leave the skin on the eggplant. I did not salt the eggplant beforehand. The eggplant was fresh and tender- I saw no need for peeling or salting, but you could do both, if you like.

I also always have roasted garlic on hand. I make a big batch and store in smaller containers in the freezer, until needed.The directions are after the recipe. If you don’t have roasted garlic, you could add several cloves of garlic, peeled and minced. I invited a neighbor to try it- and she ended up taking the rest home.

Ratatouille Salad

1 medium eggplant, cubed. I had about 3 cups of eggplant.

3 T. oil

½ t. salt

1 medium onion, sliced

2 T. roasted garlic*

½ c. red wine vinegar

1 med. zucchini, cut in matchstick pieces, about 3 cups

1 sweet pepper, seeded and diced

1½ c. diced fresh tomato, seeded, if desired

 

Dressing:

1/3 c. red wine vinegar

1/3 c. olive oil

2-3 T. honey, or to suit your taste

2 T. chopped parsley

1 t. chopped basil

2 t. thyme leaves

Hot sauce to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In skillet, heat oil and saute eggplant until tender and just starting to brown. Season with salt. Remove from skillet and set in a mixing bowl. In same skillet, saute onion and cook until wilted and tender. Add the garlic and vinegar to the skillet and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. While liquid is cooking down, place remaining veggies in mixing bowl with the eggplant. When most of the liquid is cooked off, place onion in mixing bowl with eggplant mixture.  Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jar and whisk to combine. Pour over the eggplant mixture and toss to coat. Adjust seasonings. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 6-8 as a side.

 

*Once you have roasted garlic on hand for cooking, you will wonder how you did without it before. I get large amounts of freshly peeled cloves. Place the peeled garlic cloves in a roasting pan and pour a generous amount of olive oil over the garlic. Cover tightly with foil and  bake at 350 until garlic is tender and golden. This will take at least 30 minutes, but up to 40 minutes. It depends on how much garlic you are roasting at a time. Be careful not to burn it. Once cooled, place the garlic cloves, and oil, in small freezer containers. Store in freezer.

Breaded Eggplant

Breaded Eggplant

Even though I love eggplant prepared in a lot of different ways, this dish is one of my favorites. I think it is because it reminds me of my parents.  My mother used to make eggplant this way. My dad loved it- and he was not a big eggplant fan. I guess pretty much anything tastes better when breaded. She would top the eggplant with some cheese and sometimes with some marinara sauce.

I cut the eggplant in slices, but you could also cut them in strips and serve like French fries, if you prefer.

One of the problems  with eggplant is about how much oil it will absorb when cooking. If you fry these slices in a skillet- they will soak up the oil like a sponge. I prefer to bake the eggplant, with a drizzle of oil. They come out crispy, but not greasy.

They make a nice side dish or even main dish. I topped mine with Asiago cheese, but a lot of other cheeses would be good, too. Mozzarella was what my mom used. I often use Parmesan cheese or a Pecorino Romano.

Breaded Eggplant

1 large eggplant or 2 medium

salt

1 egg

1/2 c. milk or half and half

pepper

1 T. Tuscan seasoning* recipe follows or use another blend of Italian herbs

1 t. garlic powder

about 1 cup of bread crumbs

1/2 c. oil

1/2 c. Asiago cheese, or more

Peel and slice eggplant. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle generously with salt. Let sit for 20 minutes. Drain, rinse and pat dry. Prepare egg wash by mixing the egg with the milk or half and half, pepper, a little more salt, Tuscan seasoning and garlic powder. Place in a shallow bowl. Place bread crumbs in another shallow bowl. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. One slice at a time, dip eggplant in egg wash, then in the bread crumbs, turning to coat evenly. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining eggplant. Drizzle with the oil and bake for about 25 minutes. Turn slices after 15 minutes and continue baking until eggplant slices are golden brown and tender. Sprinkle with cheese and return to oven for 5 minutes longer. Serve as is, or with a marinara sauce. Serves 3-4.

 

*Tuscan Seasoning

½ c. dried basil

½ c. dried oregano

½ c. dried marjoram

3 T. dried minced onion

2 T. dried minced garlic

2 T. dried rosemary

2 T. dried parsley

1 t. crushed red pepper

 

 

Baked Eggplant

Baked Eggplant

Baked Eggplant

I got the most beautiful eggplant at Blue Pike Farm the other day. I decided to just make some baked breaded eggplant slices. They are easy to make and taste great. Eggplant is notorious for soaking up oil when cooking. By baking, rather than frying, you can keep them from getting oily but still be crunchy. I peeled my eggplant, but you can leave the skins on, if you prefer. The recipe is pretty simple. I sliced the peeled eggplant about 1-inch thick and salted them lightly. I let them sit for a bout 30 minutes and then drained them, rinsed them off and patted them dry. I made an egg wash with eggs, a little water, salt, pepper, paprika, dried basil and dried oregano. I dipped the slices in the egg wash and then in bread crumbs. After breading the slices I placed them on a baking sheet and drizzled them with oil. I baked them in a 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, turning once or until tender. To serve them I had some fresh tomato sauce and some Parmesan cheese. So yummy.