Eggplants are starting to appear at the farmers markets. Ranging in color from a light violet purple to a deep dark, rich purple, eggplants–like zucchini–are not always my favorite vegetable. Cooked up certain ways, however, eggplants are quite tasty. Here are a few ideas:
Super easy. Our kids love it this way. Heat a good amount of oil in a frying pan. Slice the eggplant into quarter to half inch rounds. Dip the rounds first in flour, then egg whites, and finally bread crumbs (in that order). Place the rounds in the hot oil and cook until soft in the middle and golden on the outside.
Eggplant-tomato sauce for pasta
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. Chop up a small onion and a couple cloves of garlic. Saute both for until the onions have softened. Dice the eggplant, placing it in the frying pan with the onions and garlic. Add salt, pepper, and fresh herbs of choice (basil, thyme, oregano), to taste. Chop a few tomatoes (depending on how much sauce you want) and add them to the frying pan after the eggplant has softened a bit. Cook until everything is heated through. Serve with pasta.
Mediterranean-style sandwich (from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics)
This recipe isn’t exactly kid-friendly. It’s been one of our summer favorites for years. When we make these sandwiches, we make the kids grilled cheese with tomatoes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 1 large garlic clove (pressed), 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of dried fennel, rosemary, or thyme, and a pinch of ground black pepper. Set aside. Slice 1 small eggplant, a red bell pepper, and a small onion and place in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Poor the vinaigrette over the veggies. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until the eggplant is very tender.
When the vegetables are done roasting, slice a baguette in half lengthwise. Place grated feta, mozzarella, or Parmesan cheese on one half of the baguette. Place the baguette in the hot oven for a few minutes, until the bread is slightly toasted and the cheese has melted. Once out of the oven, place the vegetables along the length of the baguette and top them with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil. Cover with the other baguette half and slice into thirds or quarters to make 3-4 sandwiches.