Sunday, July 24, 2011

Project Eggplant

I've been getting pounds of eggplant in my CSA share, which for me begs the question - is eggplant really worth messing with?  My CSA donates extra vegetables to a local food bank, so I could easily just not take the eggplant part of my share and let someone else try their luck.

However, the adventurous side of me thought maybe, just maybe, there's something tasty that can be made from an eggplant.  And thus was born Project Eggplant.  I found four promising recipes and invited a few good friends to the party.  (I should interject here that more than a few people found really creative excuses not to come to the party - which is understandable.  But they totally missed out!)

The bounty

I made four dishes - Eggplant Dip, Eggplant Fries, Creole Aubergine, and Eggplant Parmesan.  All of the recipes are listed below, but I'll talk about them and show pictures first.  After making all these, it seems like the real secret to eggplant dishes is to salt the eggplant first so it sweats out the bitter taste and is better able to absorb flavors from your dish.

Creation 1: Eggplant Dip
I made the eggplant dip ahead so that my friends wouldn't starve when they first arrived.  It turned out ok, but we all decided that 1) if you have an eggplant, there are better uses for it, and 2) if you want a dip, there are better ones out there.  But if you have eleven eggplants and are trying to be creative, it's not a bad choice.

Eggplant Dip with Multigrain Crackers

Creation 2: Eggplant Fries
Everyone loved the eggplant fries!  Like the dip, I wouldn't go out of my way to purchase an eggplant just to make fries out of it, but if you happen across one, this is a fun way to prepare it.  The prep was fairly minimal for this dish, but like all things fried it took a while to cook everything, since you have to do it in batches.  

Eggplant Fried with Ranch Dressing

Creation 3: Creole Aubergine
I picked this recipe just because it had "creole" in the name and I'm from Louisiana.  This was by far my favorite dish of the night!  It took a good bit of prep, but the prep was in spurts.  You didn't have to monitor everything constantly, but you had to be in the vicinity for a good chunk of time.  This recipe was super flavorful.  I would even go out of my way to pay money for an eggplant just to make it again.

Creole Aubergine

Creation 4: Eggplant Parmesan
If you've ever eaten eggplant before, it's likely been in the form of eggplant parmesan.  This recipe was the top hit in Google, and had a 4.5 star rating on from 1500 ratings.  I liked that it was baked, not fried, but I'm sure it's still incredibly unhealthy.  The prep on this one was intensive, but came in spurts like the creole aubergine.  My taste testers decided that this one also deserved of a rating of "I would pay money for an eggplant just to make this dish".

Eggplant Parmesan

And now for the recipes!!!  The Eggplant Parmesan was from and the others were from

Also thank you to my adventurous friends for trying out my "projects", as well as accessorizing our meal with local wine, a delicious death-by-chocolate cake, and juicy gossip!

Eggplant Dip
1 eggplant (I used two of the long skinny purple ones and one white one)
4 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 T tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Slice eggplants in half lengthwise.  Brush a foil-lined baking sheet with olive oil and lay eggplants face down.  Bake at 350 until peeling away from the skin (took me about 20 minutes)
3. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent
4. When eggplant is soft, scoop out the flesh and add with tomato paste and lemon juice to the skillet.  Simmer 20 minutes over low heat.
5. Allow to cool slightly and add to a food processor.  Process until smooth.
6. Season with salt and pepper as desired and serve at room temperature with crackers or pita chips.

Eggplant Fries
2 medium eggplants (I used 3 white ones), peeled and sliced into french fry shapes
1 c milk
2 eggs
3/4 c flour
3/4 c self-rising corn meal
1/2 t salt
Vegetable or canola oil for frying
3 T Ranch seasoning mix (I used Tony Chachere's)
Ranch dressing

1. Salt eggplant sticks thoroughly and place in a colander to drain for 20-30 minutes.  Rinse with cool water and pat dry.
2. Mix milk and eggs in a medium bowl.
3. Combine flour, corn meal, 1/2 salt, and ranch seasoning in a shallow bowl.
4. Dredge eggplant sticks in egg mixture then cornmeal mix and carefully place into hot oil.  Fry until golden brown.
5. Drain on paper towels and serve hot with ranch dressing.

Creole Aubergine

1 large eggplant, cubed, sprinkled with salt, and placed in colander for 20 minutes (I used one large purple one)
2 T vegetable oil
2 T onions
3 T green bell peppers
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c sliced mushrooms
1 can diced tomatoes
6 oz. can tomato paste
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t dried thyme
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/2 c cheddar cheese
1/2 c seasoned bread crumbs

1. Saute onion and bell pepper in oil over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and cook an additional minute.  Add tomatoes and tomato paste to skillet and simmer 15 minutes.  Add herbs and simmer an additional 15 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350.
3. Bring water to a boil in a pot.  Rinse eggplant cubes and drop into boiling water.  Parboil 8 minutes or until tender.  Drain in colander.
4. Arrange half the eggplant in a 10x10 casserole dish.  Cover with half of the tomato mixture.  Repeat.
5. Sprinkle cheddar and seasoned bread crumbs over the top.
6. Bake 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Eggplant Parmesan

2 large eggplants (I cut up two of the big purple ones, and didn't even use all those)
2 eggs, beaten
4 c seasoned Italian bread crumbs
Large jar (3 lbs.) of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I used Prego mushroom)
16 oz. mozzarella cheese
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
1 T fresh basil

1. Peel eggplant and slice into large medallions.  Salt thoroughly and let drain in a colander about 20 minutes.  Rinse with cool water and pat dry.
2. Preheat oven to 350.
3. Dip eggplant slices in egg then coat in bread crumbs.  Place in a single layer on baking sheets and bake 10 minutes on each side.
4. In a 9x13 baking dish, spread spaghetti sauce to cover bottom.  Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce.  Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.  Repeat these 3 layers until all eggplant used up, ending with cheese on top.  Sprinkle basil over the cheese.
5. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

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  1. how fun and inventive! Can't wait to try some of the recipes. And I like the rating system of how much trouble would one go to , to eat it again. :)

  2. This is funny as well as informative. Definitely try the Eggplant Pirogue Cajun specialty. As for me, I can't wait to try the Eggplant AK 47!!! Aint Cinda

  3. Update: The Creole Aubergine and Eggplant Parmesan passed the "man test" as leftovers! I didn't subject him to leftover eggplant fries though.


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