Posts Tagged ‘eggplant’

Grilled Vegetables

Grilled vegetables are a wonderful summertime treat. Below is a description of how to grill zucchini, eggplant, onions, peppers, beets, and tomatoes. You can grill on either a charcoal or gas grill, and roasting in the oven works too, though without the “grilled” taste. Also, you can grill your vegetables ahead of time – then later reheat or eat at room temperature. Grilling ahead of time (minutes, hours, or even a day or two) is especially useful if you have other main-dish items to grill for the meal. These recipes ideas are adapted from an article by Susie Middleton in the July 2002 issue of Fine Cooking magazine.

General Vegetable-grilling Tips:
* Most vegetables should be liberally brushed with oil (ideally olive oil) or any oil-based marinade before grilling to help lock in the juices. The oil can cause a flash flare-up – just put the lid on tightly or sprinkle on water to extinguish it.
* Charcoal users should build a two-zone fire. Pile the coals so that there is a cooler edge on one side of the grill.
* Grill on high heat. If you need to move a vegetable to lower heat, move it to the side of the grill or turn one gas burner down.
* Cook peppers, beets, garlic, and onions. They don’t need to be watched too closely or turned frequently. Grill the zucchini and eggplant together since the need to be check every minute or so.
* Don’t undercook vegetables. The great flavor of vegetables comes from their juices caramelizing at high heat.

Zucchini and Summer Squash:

To prepare: Trim off both ends. Make either lengthwise slices or cut on diagonal to make oval-shaped pieces – all slices should be about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick. Brush both sides of each piece with olive oil and season with salt just before grilling.
To grill: Place squash pieces on the grill at a 45-degree angel to the grates and grill, covered, until well-browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Move slices around as necessary so that they brown evenly – don’t undercook them.

Eggplant:
To prepare: All eggplant can be grilled, though oriental varieties (long and skinny) are particularly well-suited. Cut stem end off eggplants. For oriental varieties, slice in half. For other round varieties, cut crosswise into rounds about 3/8 inch thick. You can also use a vegetable peeler to peel lengthwise strips off the round eggplants (they’ll look striped) to eliminate some of the tough skin.
To grill: Put eggplant pieces on the grill and cover. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side, until well-browned and limp. Check occasionally and move if necessary so that all pieces are browned evenly. Move the slices from the heat and stack them to finish cooking – either on a cooler upper deck in your grill or wrap with foil off the grill. Let sit 15-20 minutes (thicker eggplant pieces will often still be raw in the middle without this last step of letting the residual heat steam the flesh).

Onions:
To prepare: Trim off both ends, peel off outer skin, and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices. Thread slices on metal skewers or soaked wooden skewers. Brush liberally with olive oil and season with salt.
To grill: Put onion skewers on grates and cook until slices are well-browned on both sides, about 15 minutes total. Move the slices from the heat and stack them to finish cooking – either on a cooler upper deck in your grill or wrap with foil off the grill. Leave them sit for about 10 minutes to finish cooking.

Tomatoes:
To prepare: Make sure to use “plum” or “processing” tomatoes. These tomatoes have a lower water content and are best for grilling (as well as sauce and salsa). Cut each tomato in half and gently remove the seeds with your fingers. Rub lightly with olive oil and salt cut sides.
To grill: Grill on medium heat with cut sides down for 7-9 minutes. Then carefully turn over and move them to the lowest heat. Cook for 10-12 minutes more, until most of the moisture is gone. With a spatula, press them gently to flatten and help release moisture. You can let them cook as long as possible – the longer the better.

Sweet Peppers:
To prepare: Red peppers are best, but can also use Italian frying peppers (long, pointy pungent peppers). Red peppers should be left whole and dry. For frying peppers, cut in half and remove seeds and thin dividers (membranes).
To blacken red peppers: Put the peppers on the grated, cover, and cook until the skins are blackened on all sides. Turn peppers several times to make sure all sides of pepper are charred and black, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from grill and put all peppers into a single brown paper bag (such as a grocery bag) to cool completely. When cool, peel off blackened skin under running water. Then remove stems and seeds, reserving the flesh and juices. (Note that this method also works for Anaheim hot peppers)
To grill green peppers: Put oiled pieces on grill and cover. Cook until browned and tender.

Garlic:
To prepare: Clean off all dirt (remove a layer of skin if necessary) and cut off tip. Brush liberally with oil.
To grill: Grill on high heat for 10-15 minutes. When done, the cloves should be very soft – the inner flesh should squeeze out when head is compressed. If not soft, return to grill until done. We love to eat the garlic spread on small pieces of toast or crackers.

Beets:
To prepare: Clean off all dirt, and cut of the leaves, leaving 1/4″ of leaf stems. Do not peel the beet. Brush liberally with oil.
To grill: Grill on high heat for 10-15 minutes. When done, the beet should be tender – you should be able to easily spear with a fork or knife. When done, the skins become loose – when eating you can slide off the skins, and slice if you like.

Eggplant Parmesan

This is a nice, really fresh tasting Eggplant Parmesan recipe adapted from a recipe at epicurious.com that we tried the other night.  We thought it was excellent!  You can use any of your share tomatoes for this recipe and I used fresh hot peppers instead of the dried called for.  The panko gives the eggplant a really nice breading.  This recipe serves 6-8.  You can cut it down and use 2 medium eggplants or one large and a couple asian to serve 4 instead.

ingredients

2  1/2 lb medium eggplants (about 3), cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick rounds
3 1/4 teaspoons salt
5 lb plum tomatoes
1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
20 fresh basil leaves, torn in half
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or 1/2 teaspoon fresh chile
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
3 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs — found at most grocery stores and co-ops)
2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2/3 cup)
1 lb chilled fresh mozzarella (not unsalted), thinly sliced

method

Toss eggplant with 2 teaspoons salt in a colander set over a bowl, then let drain 30 minutes.

While eggplant drains,  blanch tomatoes 1 minute. Cool immediatly in cold water, then peel and chop. Coarsely  purée in a blender or food processor. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then add garlic and sauté, stirring, until golden, about 30 seconds. Add tomato purée, basil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and red pepper  and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 25 to 30 minutes.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.

Stir together flour, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a shallow bowl. Lightly beat eggs in a second shallow bowl, then stir together panko and 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano in a third shallow bowl.

Working with 1 slice at a time, dredge eggplant in flour, shaking off excess, then dip in egg, letting excess drip off, and dredge in panko until evenly coated. Transfer eggplant to sheets of wax paper.

Heat remaining 1 1/2 cups oil in a deep 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then fry eggplant 4 slices at a time, turning over once, until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes per batch. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain.

Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in bottom of a rectangular 3 1/2-quart (13- by 11- by 2-inch) baking dish. Arrange about one third of eggplant slices in 1 layer over sauce, overlapping slightly if necessary. Cover eggplant with about one third of remaining sauce (about 11/4 cups) and one third of mozzarella. Continue layering with remaining eggplant, sauce, and mozzarella– two to three layers. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Bake, uncovered, until cheese is melted and golden and sauce is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes.

Baba Ganouj (Eggplant Dip)

This is a great way to use eggplant and also get some garlic into your diet.  It is a Middle Eastern favorite that we use as a dip for chips and vegetables.  David likes to use lots of garlic when he makes it.  The recipe is adapted from the “Moosewood Cookbook” by Mollie Katzen.

1 large or 2 medium-small eggplants

Juice from one good-sized lemon

1/2 cup sesame tahini

3 medium cloves garlic, crushed (or more)

1/2 cup finely-chopped Italian parsley

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup finely-minced scallions (optional)

Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

1 TBS olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cut of the stem-ends of the eggplants, and prick the eggplants all over with a fork.  Place them directly on an oven rack, and let them roast slowly until completely pooped, about 45 minutes – they are done when they are sagging, wrinkled, crumpled and totally soft.  Remove them from the oven and set aside until they are cool enough to handle.  Scoop the insides out and mash well.  Combine with all other ingredients, except the olive oil.  Chill the Baba Ganouj completely, and drizzle the oil over the top just before serving.

Sichuan Eggplant

This a wonderful way to cook eggplant, and the flavor reminds me of time spent in China last December. The recipe is adapted from a great old Chinese cookbook “ Pei Mei’s Chinese Cookbook, volume 1” by Fu Pei-Mei (I see copies sometimes at Chinese food stores; also used copies are available online). My dad cooks from this cookbook often, and his Chinese cooking is fabulous. Serve this dish with cooked rice.

4 Oriental eggplants (about 12 oz) — Note: standard Italian eggplants work OK too
½ TBS chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 TBS hot bean paste (“La dou ban jiang”)
2 TBS soy sauce
½ TBS brown Chinese vinegar (“ChinKiang” vinegar)
1 tsp sugar
½ cup soup stock  or water
½ TBS toasted sesame oil
6 TBS cooking oil
1 TBS chopped green onions
Remove eggplant stalks and cut eggplants into thumb-size pieces.

Heat oil in a fry pan or wok until very hot. Add eggplant, turn heat to low and stir-fry until eggplant pieces are soft, about 3 minutes. Then press eggplant, to squeeze out excess oil. Remove eggplant from pan and set aside.

Into the frying pan add the garlic, ginger, and hot bean paste, stir a few seconds, then add the soy sauce, sugar, and soup stock, and bring to a boil. Add eggplant, cook about 1 minute until sauce is gone.

Add vinegar and sesame oil, and stir until heated through. Sprinkle with chopped green onion. Mix carefully and serve immediately.

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