Baking isn’t only about sweet treats. I particularly like putting my oven to use when it comes to making vegetables.
Eggplants seem to say “summer” to me.
Besides delicious things like Eggplant Parmigiana which take advantage of both summer eggplants and tomatoes (my recipe for that comes from my mother-in-law – and I have to admit it is one of my favourite ways to enjoy eggplant), I also just love the simplicity and versatility of roasting an eggplant. I slow roast mine, at an oven temperature of about 100C for about 3 hours. You know they are done when the skin is nice and wrinkly and brown.
From this state, you simply peel off the skin and cut off the stalk, and are ready to have your eggplant in any number of ways. I include two of my favourite recipes below. One is best served with the eggplant still warm from roasting, the other as a cool dip or side dish. Enjoy.
Yaki Nasu (roasted eggplant with soy sauce and fish flakes)
Katsuo Boshi (dried bonito fish flakes)
The first time I had yaki nasu was when I was living in Japan about 20 years ago. The Japanese method of preparation involves putting the thin Japanese eggplants straight onto a low heat charcoal bar-b-que until roasted through (the skin like the roasted eggplant above).
The skin is peeled and the eggplant sliced into pieces. It is then topped with katsuo boshi and soy sauce.
So easy and a perfect accompaniment with a beer or with grilled fish.
Note: I have never bothered to take photos of my eggplant dishes – probably because they disappear too quickly. But this photo comes from JustOneCookbook and gives youo an idea of how to serve the Yaki Nasu. I don’t serve mine with the spring onions or chilli threads that they use – that’s too fussy and never in my home kitchen. Frankly, it doesn’t need it. The simplicity of the eggplant, the smokiness that it takes on from roasting, and the savoury flavours from the fish flakes and soy sauce are enough in my opinion.
Oh – and for katsuo boshi (the dried bonito fish flakes). I tend to have some of this in my cupboard, I guess as a remnant of my time living in Japan. You can usually find it in your Asian supermarket (I go to Arigato stores in Soho London) or you can buy a bag on Amazon. Here is what the actual flakes look like.
This photo is from Wikipedia.
Another great use for eggplants is to make a dip. I love babaganoush (a Middle Eastern eggplant dip) but I don’t always have tahini (sesame) in my house. Fear not. There are other versions around, and this one draws on Russian influences I think (at least that’s what Cook’s Illustrated tells me).
Roasted eggplants (two small ones)
Some tomatos (I used some leftover tinned tomato I had in the fridge, about a half a cup, but you can use fresh)
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of minced garlic
chopped dill (to taste – I love dill so tend to use a lot)
lemon juice (half a lemon equivalent).
Roast the eggplant, peel and chop. In a pan, heat some olive oil and sautee the onion and garlic. Add the eggplant to the mix, and then the tomato. Remove from the heat, and stir in an olive oil/lemon dressing (juice from half a lemon mixed with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, shaken well to emulsify) and dill. Served cooled as a dip for pita, crackers, or other thinly sliced toasted bread; or serve warm as a side dish. (I like to serve this with salmon, as I can carry through the lemon and dill theme when I grill my salmon).
Again, I didn’t take a photo of my efforts, but here is one that looks similar, from Hungry Intellectuals.