wikipedia, the source of all knowledge, just blew my mind: apparently, the eggplant is NOT a vegetable. like the tomato, it is a FRUIT, or more accurately, a BERRY (because of the “small, soft, edible” seeds).
so i’m not going to lie – the eggplant is not my favorite berry. honestly, i don’t dislike it, but i’m not a huge fan and rarely buy it. but when two beautiful, round purple ones showed up in my green grocer box last week, i started worrying about what to do with them. right away i thought, slice into rounds, salt, pepper, onto the grill.
but my mom suggested i check out the boston globe magazine recipe section, which coincidentally recently featured eggplant.
rather than grilling or frying it (which takes tons of oil) they wanted you to throw your eggplants on a hot grill WHOLE (please prick them with a fork first).
let them sit (turning whenever necessary) for about 45 minutes to an hour until the skins char and the eggplants [now i'm having a problem - what is the plural of eggplant? eggplant? eggplants sounds weird] “deflate.”
alternately, they suggest putting them in a 400 degree oven and waiting for the same results (sans char, of course, or you might want to get that oven checked out…). i prefer the grill because of the resulting smokey flavor, but you work with what you have, right? right.
when they’re done on the grill, slice your eggplant in half and scoop the insides out into a strainer to drain the liquid off. then chop up the mush.
then, the globe provided several recipes for this eggplant mush. i chose the “italian” one.
into your mush, fold a cup of small-chopped tomatoes (take the seeds out before chopping), two cloves of minced garlic, a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, a 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons of basil (or parsley, or some of both) and salt and pepper. i also added the fresh juice of half a lemon, which gave a really great brightness to the recipe.
you could stop here and just spoon this yumminess into your mouth with a toasted pita chip (or a spoon…) but i was making dinner, so two large portabello mushroom caps (oiled, salted and peppered) found their way onto the grill, some green beans were blanched, and a few ears of corn jumped into boiling water. (why am i writing like i have a magic kitchen?!)
together, this made a hearty vegetarian dinner. (he ALMOST didn’t miss the meat!)
the leftover eggplant/tomato/garlic mush may or may not have made it to work with me and some naan for lunch the next day…