Saturday, July 13, 2013

Easy roast baby eggplant with herbs and balsamic vinegar

Is anyone else intimidated by eggplant? All that instruction about using salt to draw out moisture and offset bitterness, but then reading that modern eggplant isn't bitter anyway so don't worry about it? I'm never even sure how I should cut the thing.

Recently, I saw some baby eggplant on special and thought it would be a good opportunity to get over my eggplant trepidation. It's winter here, after all, and if there is any time to experiment with roast vegetables - now is it.

And you know what? It wasn't that hard.


I did go through the pre-cooking salt procedure (described as degorging, which is a phrase I really struggle to get behind), but only in a very basic sense. After that, I just treated the eggplant like any other roast vegetable. In this instance, that meant roasting it in a mix of balsamic vinegar and dried herbs. The preparation time is very minimal.

We had the roast eggplant and vegetables with some Linda McCartney veggie sausages. It was a simple meal that perfectly matched a cool winter night. Whilst baby eggplant is a bit of an easier prospect than standard eggplant, I also feel like I've gone some way to addressing my eggplant avoidance at home.


If you're also eggplant wary, hopefully this will help you out too!

Roast baby eggplant with herbs and balsamic vinegar
An easy beginner's eggplant dish
Serves 4 as a side dish
Vegan


Ingredients
4 baby eggplants, ends removed and cut in half
8 - 10 small potatoes, roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 medium capsicum, sliced
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp dried basil

Salt, for preparing the eggplant

Method
Preheat your oven to 200'C.

Lay the eggplant face up on some paper towels and cut diagonal slices into the flesh, without puncturing the skin below. Sprinkle the flesh with salt and cover with more paper towels. Allow to sit for at least 15 - 30 minutes, or longer if preferred. Rinse briefly to remove excess salt and pat dry thoroughly.

When the eggplant is ready, place it in a large baking dish along with the potatoes, carrots and capsicum.

Combine the oil, maple syrup, vinegar and herbs in a jug or small bowl, whisk to combine, and drizzle over the vegetables. Toss to mix through. 

Roast in the preheated oven for approximately 1.5 hours, checking occasionally.

Serve as a side dish to whatever takes your fancy.


Eggplant are not my favourite vegetable, but it is nice to have an extra option to toss in a roasting mix while they're in season. Perhaps with time, I'll even gain confidence in using them in other ways too...

Submitted to Ricki's Wellness Weekend 11th to 15th July 2013.

What are your thoughts on eggplant? Any favourite preparation techniques or dishes?

27 comments:

  1. I loveee eggplant. I salted an eggplant once.... and once only. I really don't think you need to salt Aussie eggplants, they're so sweet and not bitter at all.

    My favourite (and super easy) way to eat eggplant is sliced into about 1/2 cm slices and dry fried in a pan until soft and golden. No oil, no salt nothing, just the beautiful eggplant and then have it with a delicious dipping sauce or in a salad or in a roast veggie sandwich etc etc. Char-grilled comes a close second though :) and when I'm doing a load of roast veggies I cut it into cubes and pop them in when the pumpkin/carrot/potato is about 30 mins off. Oh and if you have a v slicer really thin eggplant slices baked make wonderful eggplant 'chips'!

    Enjoy your eggplant adventures x

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    1. Mm, fantastic! I think I'd love them char grilled too. Thanks for all the suggestions!

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  2. I love eggplant when cooked really well and falling apart. I rarely salt eggplant - have done so occasionally when following a recipe to the letter. I have made an amazing Macedonian eggplant salad with well roasted eggplant in a garlicky vinaigrette because I loved a similar one when I was on kibbutz (it's on my blog if you are interested). However I rarely buy them because E doesn't fancy them and I get paranoid about cooking them properly - and somehow I never want to cook with them unless they aren't in the house - must make amends

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    1. Mr Bite isn't a big fan either, although to his credit he did eat these without issue. I don't think I've ever had it the way you describe - really falling apart - so I will definitely have to experiment more and perhaps try your salad too!

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  3. nothing scary about eggplant! Great recipe ;)

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  4. Eggplant for me is a texture thing, so I've only ever really liked it in my eggpant tahini soup or babaganoush.

    Heh. Degorging. That sounds icky.

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    1. I know, right? It makes me worry about who first applied the term to that process!

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  5. My mother didn't cook with eggplants so I also had no idea how to cook with them. I have a lovely green chicken curry recipe that uses the finger eggplants. You don't have to salt them, just chop and throw into a saucepan with hot sunflower oil to cook for a few minutes then remove and place on paper towel. Then you cook the curry as normal adding the eggplants back in at the last minute - very simple and you can't go wrong. xx

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    1. What a great idea! I think that would make green curry more interesting and flavour the eggplants beautifully too.

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  6. I'm not an eggplant fan, but I am trying :) The balsamic sounds like an excellent idea!

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  7. Yum that looks so delicious!! I didn't know we were able to get those sausages here, I will have to look out for them in Melbourne as I've only seen Quorn sausages in the freezer.

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    1. They're relatively new to Perth but I've seen them in a few IGA's now :) They're great and I like them better than Quorn because they don't have egg!

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  8. I'm very picking about eating eggplant - so I usually don't make it because I don't like most ways I've prepared it- ha! This looks great though!

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    1. I'm like that with a few things myself - picky, and not up to my own standards!

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  9. I really enjoy eggplant and this dish would make me happy.

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    1. In that case, I recommend it to you Maureen :-)

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  10. I cooked eggplant the other night, but I underestimated the time it needed to roast, and ended up frying it! I know for next time that 1.5 hours is what is needed, not 45min! I LOVE eggplant, and will definitely keep this recipe bookmarked : )

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    1. I do the underestimating thing all the time too! I've learnt that when it comes to roasting vegetables, I need to add half an hour onto what I think is right :P

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  11. I love eggplant when it is cooked properly - if it's not tender and falling apart then I'm not so much of a fan. My favourite ways to eat it are in moussaka or an Indian curry called baigan bharta and I also love char grilling eggplants to make baba ganoush. Eggplants tend to soften up nicely when cooked for a long enough period in a sauce.

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    1. I don't think I've ever had it falling apart but I think I'll have to try some of your methods!

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  12. I love eggplant but yes I agree it can be overwhelming all the 'rules' etc. I don't salt them cause I don't like the taste when its overly salty.

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    1. Which is a perfect reason to not do it :)

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  13. We have so many eggplants from the garden that we have gotten pretty creative with using them up. Some of the things people have mentioned here - char grilled, or in curry, but also sliced and baked with tomato sauce and vegan cheese for parma, slow cooked and then mixed with tomatoes for a really yummy pasta sauce, on pizza... I can't really think of how else we've had them but they do grow prolifically, if you're looking for something to plant!

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    1. I am always grateful for tips on prolific plants, so that is good to know - thanks!

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  14. I'm not a huge eggplant fan so I rarely cook with it. I would definitely say that I'm intimidated about cooking it and having it actually taste good. I love balsamic vinegar though so I'm sure with that and all the other ingredients added, it would taste great. Maybe I will shop for the ingredients this week and make it for Sunday dinner. http://redstoneoliveoil.com/product-category/basalmic-vinegars/

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