Eggplant Two Ways

I only recently started cooking with eggplant– I just wasn’t sure what to make and how to make it before!  It’s such an interesting vegetable though, the only purple one I can think of right now, with a funny spongy texture before it is cooked.  The first recipe I ever tried was ratatouille, and since then I have been hooked!

Eggplant is not only pretty, but very good for you:

  • 1 cup provides 9 grams of carbs which is our body’s number source of fuel
  • 1 cup provides 2 grams of fiber
  • it is low in calories, 35/cup, and contains no fat while the high fiber content can help you feel full
  • the skin of the eggplant contains nasunin, which is an antioxident and free-radical scavenger
  • it is also a good source of B1, B6, and potassium

Eggplant is in season this month and here are two ways to add this beneficial vegetable to your BBQ or picnic basket:  grilled in a ratatouille inspired open face sandwich and sauteed in a caponata, spooned onto slices of a ciabatta loaf.

Grilled Ratatouille Open Face Sandwich

I love ratatouille and wanted to take elements of it to make a fun and easy finger food that can be made on a grill.  I stayed indoors and used Emeril’s grill & panini maker for this recipe which worked out great.

The bread:
– 1 loaf of good artisan bread or baguette, I used Trader Joe’s flax seed ciabatta, sliced lengthwise

The veggies for the grill:
– 1 small eggplant, sliced lengthwise into about 1/4″ width pieces
– 1 medium yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into about 1/4″ width pieces (I sliced them in half after cutting lengthwise as well)
– 1 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into about 1/4″ width pieces (I didn’t use in my recipe)

To brush onto the veggies:
– 3 to 4 TBS of olive oil
– rosemary, chopped if fresh (recommended) but dried works too
– thyme, chopped if fresh (recommended) but dried works too
– coriander seeds or ground
– salt and pepper, to taste

Other veggies you  will need:
– 2 large tomatoes, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
– 1 small onion, chopped
– 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
– olive oil, for cooking
– a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped

Start by combining all the ingredients to be used to brush onto the grilled veggies: olive oil, rosemary, thyme, coriander, and a few shakes of salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Heat up the grill.  Once it’s ready, lightly brush the eggplant, yellow squash, and zucchini with the olive oil mixture.  Grill each side for about 3 to 4 minutes, until tender.  When done, remove from grill and place on a plate.

While you are working the grill, heat up a small saucepan with some olive oil.  Add the garlic and onions.  Cook until edges are browned and onions are translucent.

Once most of the vegetables are grilled, toast the lengthwise pieces of bread for a few minutes until bread is warm and tops are starting to get crispy.

Assemble the sandwich:  spoon the cooked garlic and onion onto the bread and spread evenly.  Start with a layer of eggplant, followed by a layer of squash, and then the zucchini.  Top with the tomato slices.  Sprinkle on the cut basil and some salt and pepper. Cut into slices and serve.

Eggplant Caponata

Caponata is a Sicilian dish consisting of a cooked vegetable salad with a sweet and sour taste.  This dish can be made a day or two before needed and stored in the refrigerator until ready to be eaten.

I found this recipe on Epicurious but I think the original recipe is from Bon Apetit.

– 1 small eggplant, cut int 1/2″ cubes
– 1/2 to 1 small onion, chopped
– 3 garlic cloves, chopped
– 3 to 4 medium tomatoes, diced
– red wine vinegar
– 2 TBS capers, drained
– a handful of fresh basil, chopped
– pine nuts, toasted
– olive oil, for cooking
– slices of bread or crackers

Heat up oil in a medium frying pan.  Add eggplant, onion, and garlic.  Saute for about 15 minutes, until eggplant is soft and brown.  If the mixture looks too dry, add a few TBS of water while cooking.

Add the tomatoes.  Drizzle some red wine vinegar on top and add the capers.  Cover the pan and cook on low heat until eggplant and onion are tender, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper.  Taste test, and add more vinegar, salt, and pepper if desired.

Stir in fresh basil and transfer into a serving bowl or container.  Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.  This dish can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.  Spoon onto slices of bread or crackers.

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