6 Ways of Cooking with Eggplants
In a country as diverse as Canada, it is easy to find 6 ways of cooking with eggplants. I have learned to cook by ingredients to take advantage of the seasons and the store sale. If eggplant is on sale, I will grab that opportunity to indulge in my eggplant fantasies. I love eggplant. It has a meaty texture and a distinct taste. Moreover, eggplant is rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and low in calories.
I was so impressed when I first immigrated to Canada and visited a Canadian supermarket. There is just simply many choices of everything. 10 different brands of cooking oil, 20 different types of flour, 30 different types of coffee. This is the same with vegetables. I was flabbergasted to find so many different types of eggplants.
Canada imports its vegetables from different countries, and depending on the seasons, we would find different eggplants. Did you know that there are in fact, ten different types of eggplants? These include Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, White, Graffiti, Fairy tale, Globe and Rosa Bianca.
Just as there are many different types of eggplants, there are many ways of cooking with eggplants. I want to share my favourite 6 ways of cooking with eggplants. They vary from being a main dish, an appetizer, or a side dish. They are all quick and easy, and not too fussy.
Grilled Eggplant Rounds
The key to this recipe is to use the Globe eggplant, which is round and fat. Cut the eggplant into round slices. Brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Lay them flat in a lined cookie sheet, and bake in the oven at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes. Once they are done, take them out, add your favourite toppings like cheese, scallions, bacon bits, and broil in the oven for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
A variation of this grilled eggplant round, is roasting the eggplant cut in vertical shape. Same principle. Top with your favourite toppings. You can add sour cream and parsley, just like you would do on your favourite baked potato.
Tortang Talong (Filipino Eggplant Omelette)
Poke the eggplants with 5 to 6 holes before placing them in the oven center rack and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. Alternatively, you can broil them at 10 minutes each side (this will require you watching the cooking process – no multitasking while cooking.) Once baked or broiled, let the eggplant cool. Peel, and flatten eggplant with a fork to reach a fan shape. Prepare 2 eggs, dip the eggplant in the beaten eggs, and cook in pan. Pour the remaining eggs on top of the eggplant. You can add cheese, scallions just like you would in an omelette.
Slice the eggplant into long vertical pieces, bake in oven for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Turn them half way through the baking process to ensure even cooking on both sides. Once, done, take them out, and top with your favourite pizza toppings. Return to oven to broil for another 5 minutes.
Asian inspired Eggplant with Garlic sesame recipe
This is best done using the long Asian eggplant. Cut them into 4 inch length Bake in the oven at about 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Once done, place in a platter, top with a ginger, garlic, sesame soy sauce, and return to oven to fuse the ingredients for another 5 minutes. Serve with rice.
Note: In Asia, where cooking is mostly done on a stove top, the eggplant is cooked by steaming for 15 minutes, while covered. Once sauce is poured over the steamed eggplant, cook for another 5 minutes.
Grilled eggplant with feta rolls
Bake eggplant vertical slices in oven for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Once done, let it cool for a few minutes. Slice up feta cheese in rectangles, wrap the feta cheese with baked eggplant and a slice of cheese. Return to oven for a quick 2 to 3 minute softening of the exterior cheese and eggplant wrapper. Serve.
Eggplant Pate or Eggplant Babaganoush
This dish originated in the Arab countries and can be served as a side dish, a pate, a sandwich spread or a dip with crackers. (I can imagine Jesus probably eating this recipe with flatbread :). Poke a few holes in the eggplant to let off steam during the cooking process. Roast the eggplant in oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. Once cooled, peel the eggplant, and mash to a pulp using a fork. Using 2 eggplants, add 1 garlic clove, 2 tbsp tahini sesame seed paste, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tbsp lime juice, salt and pepper.
When I was a kid, we only have two ways of eating eggplant, and we do it the same way over and over again. It was probably like that for generations. Then I come to a country like Canada, and I start to think, what a wonderful way to live, if we can try out things differently.
I hope you share the same feeling. Dare to experiment and try something different.