Sunday, July 31, 2011

Eggplant -or- Why Does Baba ghanoush Have To Be So Ugly?

 If you're like most people, you don't really like eggplant.  That is unless it's breaded, fried, and covered with sauce and cheese.  I hear you.  It's weird.  It has a strange texture, color, and small when it's raw.  I wasn't a super fan of it growing up and didn't pay too much attention to it when I was an adult.  When I started getting buckets of it from my farm share, I figured I would try to find another way to eat it other than eggplant Parmesan.  By the way I use the recipe from the Joy of Cooking and it is wonderful. 

You can bread and fry the eggplant pieces and then freeze them.  Then all winter long you can pull out a slice here and there and put them on pizza, make eggplant parm or eat them with ranch dressing like my friend used to do when she was little...or not. 

However, if you've ever fried eggplant you know that it soaks up oil so effectively that I'm kind of surprised they didn't use it in the Gulf.  I don't really need to have that much breaded and fried stuff in my life so I ran a series of eggplant experiments.  First I made this really delicious dip with eggplant and butternut squash.  You actually make it in the slow cooker. It is really tasty but it doesn't freeze well.  So that was out. 

Then I started making Baba ganoush.  Seriously, this stuff is all gray and weird looking, but it is really yummy, but I expect that doesn't freeze too well either, so it's not really a preserving methods. 
This photo is from One Green Tomato.  I use her recipe, and I know what you're thinking, "that doesn't look ugly."  Well, she's a really skilled photographer, so don't be fooled, people don't want to eat gray food unless they already know it's delicious.
Then I came across a recipe in the book Preserving the Harvest for roasted eggplant and roasted red peepers layered with basil in an oil and vinegar garlic dressing. The first year I made twelve jars and thought, "What the Hell am I going to do with twelve jars of canned eggplant?"  I'll tell you what, eat the ever-living life out of it!! It is so good.  Even though it's made with vinegar it doesn't really taste pickled.  You can use them on sandwiches, pizza, salads, or chop it up or blend it in the food processor, spread it out in a shallow pie pan cover it with feta cheese and warm it up as a spread for pita chips or bread.  This stuff is incredible.  I gave a jar to my husband's grandfather for Christmas and he loved it.  I planned to make cases of it the following year (last year) but we didn't get a lot of eggplant, I'm not sure I got to make any.  This year I'm on it, though. 

Another thing I want to try my hand at is caponata.  Seeing as though this is a Sicilian dish and I am Sicilian by marriage I figured I ought to.  People say it freezes well, and I believe them.  It ca also be canned, and everyone seems to love this book for the recipe.  I'll let you know how it goes. 

Happy Eggplanting!

3 comments:

  1. M i c h a e l K a r a sJuly 31, 2011 at 6:28 AM

    Jannelle,

    I'm really glad you are back at blogging. I always look forward to your posts. Once I escape Cuba and repatriate to the United States I think I am going to have to find some local produce and give canning a shot. Any tips on getting started?

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  2. Michael, my tips are, start with a clean kitchen and take it slow. The Ball Complete book of home preserving has a great "getting started" section in the beginning. They give you a few easy canning recipes to follow; a salsa, a jam, maybe pickles. If you were to do all of those first you would feel pretty confident. I have yet to branch out into pressure canning, but this year might be the year!

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  3. Janelle - Thanks so much for your eggplant recipe - I have that book (I think) and I'll have to check it out. I never know what to do w my eggplant (other than make it into stirfry) and Dawn thinks its too mushy. I just broiled a bunch of eggplants and mushed them up with garlic, salt and pepper - and they tasted AMAZING. (don't know how it freezes). The stuff took a picture of looks great. Hey, don't know if you do much fermenting, but I'd love to know any tips you've got...mine are pretty much done, and I'm trying to figure out if they are good or not! Big hugs...Abby

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