Eggplant

(Recipe from Jennifer at Natural Things Foods Store)

Instead of an Asian wok, the Southern equivalent is definitely the cast iron skillet. Cooking these summer vegetables over high heat seals in flavor, as well as staving off the slimy texture that okra can take on when cooked. Quick, flavorful, and nutritious (also vegetarian and vegan).

Stir Fry

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Ingredients

  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups very small okra pods, whole
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 3-4 small eggplants, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 cup cooked lentils

Instructions

  1. In a large cast iron skillet over high heat, warm 1 teaspoon oil to almost smoking. Add okra pods all at once, and cook, stirring, until they begin to brown. Add eggplant, and stir, cooking another minute. Add pepper, stirring and cooking for about 2 minutes more. Add chopped tomato and remove skillet from the heat. Squeeze the juice from half of a lemon down over the entire dish, stirring to incorporate. Add salt and pepper. Stir in the cooked lentils. Enjoy!

(Recipe from Jennifer at Natural Things Foods Store)

This week’s CSA box had so many lovely things in it, and they begged to be roasted. Roasting brings out such a deep, rich flavor in vegetables that it is one of my favorite ways to prepare them. The resulting dip from this recipe doesn’t just have to be dipped. It can be spread on bread or wraps, too, for a tasty summer sandwich.

Roasted Veggie Dip

dip

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant or two medium eggplants
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 small head of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • splash red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Trim ends from the eggplant and pepper. Trim ends from the onion and remove outer skin, but leave whole. Slice across the entire head of garlic, removing just the tops from the cloves. Do the same on the bottom side, removing the roots, but leave whole.
  2. On a large baking sheet, place eggplant, trimmed end side down. Add onion, pepper, and garlic head. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over all.
  3. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the eggplant is very tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  4. Once it is cool enough to handle, scoop out the insides from the eggplant, leaving the skins behind. Place into a bowl. Open up the pepper and scrape out the insides, leaving the skin behind. Chop finely and add to the bowl. Finely chop the onion and add to the bowl. Taking the entire head of garlic, squeeze the roasted cloves of garlic from the papery skins. Finely chop and add to other ingredients in bowl.
  5. Add about a teaspoon more olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar to the vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste (the vegetables took quite a bit of salt, so keep tasting). Stir to combine very well. Enjoy!

Storage

Many people give eggplants a bad rap for their bitter taste or rubbery texture, but both of these can be avoided with freshness and proper storage. Eggplants are sensitive to cold temperatures, so storing them in the cold parts of your refrigerator for long periods of time can damage the tissue which results in an unpleasant taste and texture. Instead, store eggplants on a shelf in the front of your fridge or in a cool spot on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight and away from tomatoes, bananas, apples, and other ethylene-producers that will accelerate spoiling. Either way, eggplants have the best taste and texture when used within 1-2 days.

Another trick for improving the taste and texture of eggplants is sprinkling them with salt to extract moisture before cooking. After washing your eggplant, slice it to the desired thickness, sprinkle both sides with salt, and place in a colander or perforated bowl for 10 minutes. Rinse away excess salt and pat dry. This allows the eggplant to soak up the liquid in your recipe, reducing any bitter taste or mushy texture.

Recipes

Ratatouille

Creamy Eggplant and Caramelized Onion Dip

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan Pizza

Roasted Eggplant Bruschetta

Zucchini Eggplant Lasagna

Eggplant and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

Preservation

There are a few ways to freeze eggplant depending on what you want to do with it afterwards, but keep in mind that freezing and defrosting eggplant will result in a softer texture.

To freeze for general use, slice your eggplant to the desired size and blanch in boiling water for 4 minutes. Immediately place in a bowl of ice water, then drain and transfer to a freezer-safe airtight container for freezing.

For eggplant that you plan to roast after defrosting, you can go ahead and roast it before you freeze. Wash eggplant and slice to desired size, then drizzle with olive oil and seasonings and roast at 375-400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Allow eggplant to cool, then transfer to a freezer-safe airtight container for freezing.