Eggplant: Call for recipes

We’re finally growing eggplant! To be honest, it is one of those veggies that we’ve never loved. However, a number of members have expressed considerable fondness for eggplant, and Joanna can’t resist trying new crops, so we’ve finally decided to give this one a try. The plants have set their first fruits, so now we just have to figure out when to pick them and how to prepare them. The best way to ensure a future of eggplant on this farm is to convince us of some ways to use it that we can’t live without. Please use the comment thread to share your favorite preparation tips, techniques, & recipes.

Apparently people aren’t the only ones who like eggplant. We’ve known that eggplant has a reputation for being just a little bit fussy, and we knew to expect herbivory from flea beetles, but we’ve been impressed by the sheer diversity of other insects nibbling on (or devouring) the plants: aphids, hornworms, Japanese beetles, grasshoppers, spotted cucumber beetles, and, most recently, an outbreak of whiteflies (a pest we don’t remember experiencing here before). A plant that is attractive to so many pests must produce fruits that are delicious, right? Assuming the pests don’t do too much damage, we’re hoping to have quantities suitable for distribution in a couple of weeks. (Keep in mind we have zero experience estimating eggplant maturity dates!)

For our first year producing eggplant, we chose four varieties based on catalog descriptions of flavor, hardiness (with respect to drought & insect pressure), productivity, and time to maturity. These photos show the status of some of the baby eggplants as of several days ago:eggplant_1

Early Black Egg (photo on left) is a standard purple type, but a bit smaller & earlier to mature than the common Black Beauty variety. Listada de Gandia (photo at center) is a white & purple striped Italian heirloom with a thin skin. Ping Tung Long (photo on right) is a pale purple variety that grows long & slender. Rosita is a pale purple/pink eggplant with descriptions that highly praise its flavor & lack of bitterness; this is the only variety that hasn’t set fruit yet, though we don’t have quite as many plants of this variety. Sometimes the tastiest varieties produce the least…

There are some excellent tips & tasty-sounding recipes for eggplant from this newsletter from Fair Share Farm (a KC-area CSA), but we’d love to hear more ideas from our members!

6 thoughts on “Eggplant: Call for recipes

  1. There’s ratatouille, basically eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, sweet peppers, and onion briefly stewed with olive oil. You can add whatever herbs you like also – I like to add a ton of basil.

    I was going to suggest caponata, but that is basically what the newsletter’s “marinated eggplant” recipe is, though they don’t call it that.

    Pasta alla Norma is another good one – basically pasta with eggplant, tomato, chilies, and basil:

    If you want something a little different, Nasu Dengaku/Miso Glazed Eggplant is a Japanese broiled eggplant with a sweet miso glaze.

  2. My Indian wife has a very nice recipe that I enjoy with fresh roasted indian flat bread (chapatti). I will ask her to post it.

  3. Moussaka; eggplant parmiggiana; roasted with zucchini, peppers, add some fresh basil, cherry tomatoes and feta (serve as a side dish or over pasta o quinoa); cut in slices, dip in batter and fry.

  4. We’re having great success in learning to like eggplant, and we’re pretty sure that one key factor is use of ultra-fresh eggplant. In Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Deborah Madison points out that the flavor can deteriorate within a few days, with bitterness developing. Though our past experience with eggplant involved acquiring them from excellent CSAs, we suspect that–not being eggplant lovers–we let the poor things sit around for most of the week in the refrigerator before working up the courage to try an eggplant recipe. The results (predictably, based on what Madison has to say) did not increase our fondness for eggplant.

    This week, the eggplant has been going from plant to kitchen, and the results have been very nice. We tasted the flesh of one that we had roasted in the oven, with just a bit of olive oil (destined for baba ghanooj), and Eric described it as reminiscent of banana or pawpaw; it had a definite sweetness and no bitterness. Variety certainly matters, too. We’re finding that we especially like the flavor of the slender Ping Tung Long variety.

    Thus, our advice for eggplant skeptics is to use the eggplant immediately rather than procrastinating.

  5. Recipe ( easy & healthy ). Eggplant Parmesan

    Coat thin slices of eggplant in fine grated Parmesan cheese (Goatsbeard?)
    Then spray slices, as well as your baking pan, with cooking spray ( I use olive oil
    in a spray mister). Lastly sprinkle with minced garlic & Italian seasoning, and bake in a 400 degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes. Then ,transfer slices to a baking dish, cover with your favorite tomato/spaghetti sauce ( & I add slices of cheese ); bake till heated thru ( 5 min or so…). Yum

  6. renée and Max both react to eggplant, most likely an allergy, so it doesn’t stay in our rotation… but through our CSA we inevitably end up with some and usually they find their way into the oven to roast or onto the grill. A few notes…

    > Slice as desired, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and/or other herbs of choice. Place on hot bbq and grill until softened (or as desired). Eat as a side or cut to add to grain salads etc. If eating as-is, also try drizzling balsamic vinegar on it. Very nice.
    > Poke with holes (use a fork) and toss onto a hot bbq whole. When soft use for baba ghanooj or another ‘dip.’ Can also be used in the absolutely delicious Indian dish Baingan Bharta this way. See this link for a good recipe following this style:
    > Use in almost any Indian preparation, including Baingan Bharta recipes that have you cut up the eggplant and cook in a pan. I would also suggest chunks that get roasted (with an open flame is always ideal to get that smokiness but an oven is fine too) and then incorporated into dishes.

    I’ve also found that Ping Tung Longs (or just any long/slender eggplant) are very good in a great many Asian style dishes, stir fries etc… with Rice noodles or rice and other veggies. Pretty sure there’s a great dim sum dish that uses them that I don’t know the name of (and all I’m finding is stuffed eggplant, which could be good but would need such massive quantities of substitution I’m not linking).