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Produce trio: eggplant

I love eggplant. Really really really. It is good in so many things! Eggplant parmesan! Eggplant in garlic sauce! Ratatouille! So many lovely things to do with eggplant! So here are some.

1. Roasted eggplant. Very simple, very good. Cut off the top, whack it in half, oil each cut side as minimally as possible (basically so as to keep it from sticking). Put in a moderate oven (that’s 350 F) for half an hour or so. Timing will vary based on the size of your eggplant. Drizzle with lemon juice, sprinkle with sea salt, eat. Yum. My brother said, “I tried that, but the insides got all slumpy.” Yes! Slumpy insides are the best! So good. This is best with small eggplants. The tiny ones will do nicely, or the round green stripey ones. The long ones are fine too. But with the great big ones, the most common ones to find in American supermarkets, you get a lot of slumpy per unit slightly-crispy skin.

2. Eggplant dips. This is best with large eggplants for exactly the reason above: lot of slumpy per unit slightly-crispy skin. You may have to roast them a few minutes longer, but roast as above. Then scoop out the insides and mash them up with a fork. Then add the spicing you like: olive oil and roasted garlic is nice, or lime juice and chopped cilantro. I’m going to try sage butter today and let you know, but I hardly see how it could go wrong, because sage butter makes everything better. (Edited to add: I am right, sage butter does make everything better. It was lovely.) A variation on the roasted garlic version, with tahini and lemon juice, makes baba ghanouj, and that’s a lovely thing to do, but if you don’t have tahini, you can still have good eggplant dip. This is good for chips or crackers or as a sandwich spread base or what have you. For example you could spread the lime and cilantro eggplant dip on a good baguette and then top it with slices of avocado and sweet bell pepper and a soft white cheese.

(I saw a recipe that advised that you cut the eggplant into cubes to roast it. I do not recommend this for eggplant dip. It is a perfectly fine way to get your roasted eggplant fix from a big eggplant, but the cubes will form edges that do not want to be mashed with a fork nor with a food processor nor noffing. At least mine did. They were perfectly nice roasted eggplant cubes, but what I wanted was the tangy limey dip stuff.)

3. Fried green eggplants. This is a recent invention of Timprov’s. He takes a tablespoon or so of bacon grease, although if we hadn’t made any bacon lately I daresay it would work with other fats. He slices up the lovely little round green stripey eggplants into fairly thin slices but not paper thin, and he fries them up in the bacon grease. Then he tops steaks with them. This is good. I am a person who needs something else on a steak to make it tasty (I’m anemic and the worst carnivore ever, basically), and we are out of dates at the moment, but fried green eggplants are at least as good as sauteed mushrooms. Possibly better.

I also like moussaka, but I make it differently every time, so I have a hard time telling you how to do it from that. Oh, and I also like roasted eggplants tossed with rice vinegar and peanut oil and chopped cilantro and roasted peanuts and halved cherry tomatoes and the tiniest dash of chili oil. That’s good stuff. That’s another thing you want little eggplants for.

I do like the big eggplants, but the little ones are so handy.

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