Versatile Eggplant

October 15th, 2012 § 0 comments

It’s eggplant season. There are tiny, round eggplants on display at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. Also, slim Japanese eggplants. BSK has been cutting up the little round ones into cubes and sauteeing them with chopped tomatoes, basil, olive oil and garlic. BSK adds chopped, fresh mozzarella for Pasta a la Norma, a favorite in Sicily. HG and BSK first tasted it on a sunny Sicilian terrace overlooking the beautiful ruins of a Greek temple. Unfortunately, Sicily is wholly associated in the American mind with the nefarious activities of mafiosi. Sure, that’s part of Sicily. What doesn’t get enough attention are the Greek ruins, the extraordinary architecture and street food of Palermo and Taormina, a city with some of the most spectacular sea views in the world. Okay, enough about Sicily, let’s get back to those eggplants: BSK also sautes slices of the round, seasonal eggplants for a nice accompaniment to grilled lamps chops. HG likes to roast the Japanese eggplants. Cuts them open and eats with a bit of Chinese hoisin sauce.Those big eggplants one finds in supermarkets throughout the year are full of water. Best use for them is HG’s Baba Ganoush. HG roasts these eggplants until they are soft. Scoops out the insides and mashes them with olive oil, loads of garlic, some finely chopped onion, Spanish smoked paprika, chopped parsley. Dusts them with Zaatar, that lovely middle eastern spice mixture. HG gets much much applause when the Baba Ganoush is served with a chunk of feta cheese, Kalamata olives and warm pita.

Pickled egglplant is a classic, Italian antipasti dish, the best example of which SJ discovered at G. Esposito & Son’s Jersey Pork Butchers. You can find a middle European version of chopped eggplant at Sammy’s Roumanian Steak House on New York’s lower east side. Very heavy on the garlic and best accompanied by shots of vodka from a bottle frozen in ice. HG’s all time favorite eggplant dish can be found at good Chinese restaurants that feature cooking from the Szechuan and Hunan areas. Sometimes combined with chopped pork, these eggplant dishes stoke the mouth flames with an abundance of hot chile and Szechuan peppercorns. Pass the cold beer…

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