A plant named after an egg? Eggplant did not really enter into my palate vocabulary until later in my culinary journey that is life. I remember my mother teaching me how to make parmigiana di melanzane. Ok so that is not what we called it in our house. My mother, Martha, was from Boston (Belmont, technically). Thus parmigiana di melanzane was called, eggplant pAAHHm. She would laboriously dredge her eggplant through the flour, then egg, and finally breadcrumbs before frying up the rondelles. Next was the layering portion where these tenderly fried delights were serenaded with sauce and mozzarella. It was delicious. But I don’t necessarily think it was the eggplant. Mozzarella – it was definitely the mozzarella.
So, the eggplant. A purple piece of pleasure. How strange. This was my initial thought. Then I began to do a bit of research, although I guess I could have just used my brain and thought. But there’s Google. The eggplant has many friends in the purple category. Such a majestic color, purple. Below is a photo with a few examples of the delights that behold this hue of royalty.
I must say these fruits and veggies are quite sexy. Purple…never really enjoyed the color in clothing, but on my plate? Yes, please. Now the Incredible, edible, eggplant is not solely purple. It takes on many shapes, sizes, and colors. This only adds to the allure of this vegetable…but wait…it’s not actually a vegetable. What? I know. Eggplants are members of the nightshade family and technically are berries. Who knew?
Versatility at its best
This vegetable does not need mozzarella and marinara to make a name for itself. In fact it is such a versatile ingredient that often is over looked. Here are some beautiful ways to utilize your eggplant: babaganoush, rollatini, ratatouille, stuffed and as a salsa. However, when you do get that craving for parmigiana di melanzane, please take a moment to make Casa Mia’s by the one and only Eleonora Baldwin. In fact we may even need to do a “back by popular demand” #whatscooking class. Stay tuned.
So how do I eggplant?
Thank you for asking. I must say for my eggplant, I am a no frills kind of gal. I like it sliced to about 1/4 inch rounds or slices. After slicing, lightly salt each slice and let them sit for at least 15 minutes. This is an important step in allowing the eggplant to release its bitterness. You will immediately see the moisture form on the slices. After the allotted time, simply take a paper towel and dab off the excess moisture. Then place them onto to a parchment lined sheet tray and liberally cover with good quality olive oil. Like – douse them. These little babies are sponges. Make sure to use the good olive oil though – it is succulent. Finish them with a little salt and pepper and bake them at 400F for 15 minutes turning the pan halfway through.
From here you can put these slices on a salad, in pasta, on a cheese plate, or simply eat them as is. I like them at room temperature with fresh ricotta and mint. Delectable. However, the best thing about these is you have basically confit them (love this article on confit veggies). Which means they will last. Meal prep! Place the excess in a jar and put in the refrigerator. They will stay for 2-3 weeks if stored properly (air tight jar in the refrigerator). When your feeling purple, simply pull them out to room temperature and enjoy their majestic flavors as you see fit. Buon appetito!