The Indian Summer still lingers. However, the oven is no longer on the kitchen blacklist and eggplant is still in season at the farmer’s market. Eggplants are an excellent source of fiber and a good source of heart-healthy potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and folate as well as numerous phytonutrients. But, the real reasons we love eggplants is their gorgeous, glossy colors and the rich, meaty texture they take on when cooked.
This recipe is a summer favorite on the grill and works just as well in the oven. It is a simplified, vegan and dairy-free version of a Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamim recipe published in New York magazine. Any of the globe-shaped varieties or Italian eggplant will work. Look for younger, smaller eggplants with smooth and tight skins without scars or bruises. Older, larger or softer eggplants may become bitter. The ideal storage temperature is 50º F with humidity. So, if refrigerating eggplant, store them in the crisper, wrapped in paper towels and prepare as soon as possible. They are not as hardy as they may appear. However, if you purchase these abergine beauties and then life gets in the way of actually preparing them, there is a remedy. According to Alice Waters, you can draw out some of the excess water and bitterness of overripe eggplant by salting for a longer duration and squeezing out the excess water before cooking. Serves 4.
- 2 medium eggplants (about 1 2/3 pounds)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Sea salt
- 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Juice of 1 medium lemon (3-4 tablespoons of juice)
- 1-2 heads roasted garlic
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425º F.
- Slice each eggplant in half lengthwise and remove the stems.
- Score each side of eggplant with a crisscross pattern.
- Place on a parchment or foil-lined (for ease of clean-up) baking sheet, cut side up.
- Sprinkle each half generously with salt and set aside to rest for 30 minutes. The eggplant will begin to sweat.
- Optional: After 30 minutes, blot the eggplant with a towel to soak up any bitterness in the moisture pulled out of the eggplant. Then, sprinkle again with salt.
- Brush the cut sides with 1 tablespoon of the oil per half.
- Place a shallow pan of water at the bottom of the oven to prevent the eggplant from drying out.
- Roast eggplant for about 45 minutes, until the flesh is golden brown.
- While the eggplants are roasting, combine the lemon juice, cumin, roasted garlic and red chili pepper flakes in a bowl.
- When finished roasting, transfer the roasted halves to a serving dish, and spoon the lemon garlic sauce over the flesh.
- Garnish with chopped Italian parsley and lemon zest, if using.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Here, the eggplant is in halves for serving. However, the flesh could also be scooped out into serving bowls, used on top of pasta or as a dip.
How do you prepare and serve roasted or grilled eggplant?