Playing with Eggplant

Lately, we’ve been so busy over here that finding time to try new vegetarian dishes is getting a bit difficult. In general, I only cook on the weekend now and sometimes on Wednesdays. Due to the fact that I’m in the middle of a new semester at UNC I am either teaching class in the evenings or I am taking a yoga class and don’t get home until 6:30 during the week. That leaves Mark doing most of the cooking (and I deeply appreciate it). And of course this weekend I’ll be hanging out with Joseph! Joseph! No time for cooking when I gotta hang out with Joseph!

One thing that has been going on around here is that we’ve been playing with eggplant. And when I say “we’ve” been playing with it, I mean Mark has been experimenting with it, and I have been eating it.

I’ve already talked about fried eggplant and how well that went. The next thing Mark did was dry it in the oven.

Yummy.

Back when we were eating meat, Mark used to make these great subs that were toasted in the oven. I miss them. I asked him if he could figure out a vegetarian version, and he did. In his version, you dry out the eggplant and you also dry out roma tomatoes in the oven (takes an hour). Remember when I wrote about having 1000 roma tomates? Well the darn plant keeps producing. Everytime we think it’s surely dead and done it gives us more tomatoes.

I don’t know all the details here, but I have learned a few secrets to enjoyign eggplant. Here they are:

1. Peel the skin off the eggplant. I don’t recall why this is a good idea, but just do it. Yes, you can eat it, but peel it.

2. Buy the freshest eggplant you can and try to get it locally. For the fried eggplant and the first time Mark dried it, he purchased it from the local farmer’s market. However, when we tried the dried eggplant again he got it from the grocery story (that was our only choice). That eggplant was nowhere near as good. In fact, I couldn’t stand it at all even though I had loved it before. Quality matters.

3. Buy small eggplants. Again, I don’t know why. Mark told me that this really does matter. I agree with him so far. You can get much smaller eggplants at the farmer’s market. At the grovery store is where you will likely see the larger ones.

Here’s my deal: If I cannot get local eggplant then I’m not eating it. Quality matters so much here and, from what I can tell, what you get in the grocery story is generally of poor quality. Also, my experience with eggplant has encouraged me to consider trying things I might not eat otherwise. I don’t have any current examples, but the point is my mind is open to the opportunity! The quality of the ingredient coupled with how it’s cooked is so important.

Of course, my next post (or two!) will be about my time with Joseph. I’ll be spending Saturday with him and will try to get something up Saturday evening to fill y’all in.

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