July 08, 2020
It’s almost the end of the local eggplant season in Texas, and I have been flush with hundreds of pounds to play with at the restaurant, courtesy of nearby Knopp Branch Farm. My favorite way to cook them is to smoke, mash and turn them into a pickle, masala or a spread.
However, when cooking eggplants at home, I resort to simpler ideas, such as searing them on a skillet and finishing them in the oven. There are ample choices of what to top the eggplants with — cheese, herbs, chopped nuts, nut butter, yogurt, spices and more. I have tried them and love them all. When cooked perfectly, cutting into an eggplant almost feels like cutting into a good piece of meat.
serves 3 to 4
3 medium purple eggplants (roughly 1 pound)
1 tablespoon sea salt, divided
1/4 cup olive oil or ghee, divided
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 serrano pepper, sliced
2 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons plain whole-milk yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
Fresh herbs (optional)
Cut the eggplants into half lengthwise. Sprinkle two teaspoons salt over them and set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drain or pat dry before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat a large skillet or frying pan and add 4 to 5 tablespoons oil. Place the eggplant halves cut side down and cook them on medium to high heat for 7 to 8 minutes or until they turn a rich brown. The inside should feel almost done.
Flip the eggplants over and cook for another minute, then turn the heat off.
Transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet and top each eggplant (seared side up) half with the remaining salt, cardamom, more oil if needed, serrano, and dollops of goat cheese. Place them in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes until the cheese is melted and the eggplant looks almost puffy.
Remove from the oven, top with dollops of yogurt, a drizzle of honey and herbs and serve. If the eggplant appears dry, drizzle a little more olive oil on top.
Pre-salting the eggplant results in the liquid being drawn out of the eggplant, rendering the flesh more tender and easier to cook.
After the eggplants have been seared, they can be refrigerated and finished the next day.
Replace the goat cheese with another melting cheese.
December 02, 2022