by The Culinistas
August is peak eggplant season; you’ll notice the bulbous purple vegetable popping up at your local groceries and farmers markets and, if you’re lucky, a miniature “fairytale” version will emerge as well. Below are some of our favorite aubergine applications, in salads, dips, and stews!
This smokey Lebanese dip is a delicious starter for your next backyard BBQ or picnic. Start by grilling or roasting your eggplant with spices like za’atar, cumin, and sumac until it’s soft and creamy, then blend with high quality EVOO, soft herbs like dill or chives, salt & pepper. If you’re looking to pack in even more veg, roast off a zucchini or summer squash and add it to the mix. Best served with cucumbers and pita chips.
Ratatouille is the ultimate late summer dish. Peak season veg like eggplant, squash, tomatoes, onions and red peppers get seared on the stovetop then roasted until soft and sweet in the oven. To add a fresh element to your ratatouille, tear basil and tarragon on top, and sprinkle with lemon zest.
Eggplant & Chickpea Salad
Eggplant and chickpeas are a match made in heaven. Grill your eggplant and roast your chickpeas, or, if you’re looking to use limited gear, roast both on the same baking sheet. Don’t forget your warm spices, salt & pepper. The chickpeas should be crispy and the eggplant should be soft while still having some structure to it. Toss with crunchy cukes, tart cherry tomatoes, mint, and a quick vinaigrette. Have leftover soft herbs on hand? Parsley or chives would be a great addition.
Chop one eggplant and one zucchini into small cubes (try the brunoise method) then sauté with cayenne and onion powder until brown. Mix with diced cherry tomatoes, chives, and plenty of lemon juice and zest for a ragout that can be served on top of fish, chicken, or a pita chip. For a double eggplant feature try a pita chip with baba ganoush and eggplant ragout on top.
Break out the grill or char your eggplant whole on your stove top flame, making sure to pierce it with a fork beforehand. The goal is to cook the eggplant until the inside resembles the consistency of bone marrow, so cook for 20-30 minutes and rotate it every 5 or so. When charred on the outside and silky on the inside, top with a drizzle of tahini, a squeeze of lemon, sesame seeds, and fresh herbs.