Eggplant is one of those summer/fall vegetables that attracts me simply because it is so beautiful. I cannot think of another vegetable that looks so pretty, yet is so intimidating at the same time. Tell me…if you were the first to happen upon an eggplant, would you be eager to eat it or a little leery? Yet any vegetable that looks like an amethyst pendant begs to be investigated further.
I’ve had moderate success with eggplants, but most of my experiments had been with the large “globe” grocery store varieties. My mom introduced me to home-grown Japanese and “baby” eggplants. Both were tastier and didn’t require the long “salting” of the globe variety. Neither required peeling.
Texture seems to be the biggest barrier to most people. Only one of my five children will eat it, and my husband won’t even look its way. Another child says he likes the flavor, but not the texture. I’m convinced that I just need to make it more often, and I’ll eventually win them over. Tonight, I had all of the kids floating downstairs, saying, “Mmmm, pizza!” during the roasting. It was sort of a letdown. For them, that is. I, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed every bite.
4 small to medium eggplants
2 T. olive oil
2 lemons, juiced
1-2 T. oregano, dried or 1 handful, fresh, chopped
4 garlic cloves, pressed
Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash and dry the eggplants. Keeping the stems intact, slice through lengthwise but not all the way through the stem. Make about 1 inch slices, so narrow eggplants may only be cut in half, but fatter varieties will have 3-4 slices. If you are using larger varieties, like the “globe” you will need to sprinkle all cut sides of the eggplant with salt, lay on a kitchen towel and let sit until you see large drops of liquid form, usually about 20 minutes. Rinse, and then firmly press a towel into the eggplant to dry it and release any extra juice. “Fan” out the slices without breaking from the stem.
Mix in a bowl the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. Brush the mixture in and around the slices. Place on a roasting pan and roast about 40 minutes to an hour, covered. Uncover the last 5-7 minutes. The bottoms should be carmelized, and the flesh creamy.
Note: I haven’t tried grilling these, but my guess would be…YUM.