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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Eggplant Extravaganza: Listener Requested Recipes

We asked what ingredients you find difficult to cook with and the overwhelming majority said eggplant. So, here are several eggplant recipes and cooking tips.

a bowl of eggplant caviar with pita chips

Photo: Adam P Schweigert/WFIU

Eggplant caviar with toasted pita bread, a perfect dip to serve as a starter at your next dinner party.

This week on Earth Eats, it’s all about the eggplant! When we did our two shows about other unusual vegetables (brussels sprouts and sunchokes; okra and longbeans), we asked you, dear listeners, what other ingredients you found difficult to cook with and the overwhelming majority said eggplant.

So we’ve got two recipes for you today…a delicious eggplant dip perfect for entertaining, AND crispy eggplant french fries.

We’ve also got some cooking tips and tricks along the way, and as an added bonus, Chef Daniel Orr shared a few more of his favorite eggplant recipes.

Growing Eggplants

kim bryant eggplants

Photo: Annie Corrigan (for WFIU)

Bryant Farms is located in Ellettsville, Indiana.

Kim Bryant of Bryant Farms sells three different varieties of eggplants: Black Beauties, Ping Tung Asian Eggplants, Fairytale Eggplants.

She says growing eggplants is tricky. They’re require a lot of babysitting over their 3 month growing period, “and if you’ve succeeded in keeping them happy that whole time, they produce like crazy.”

In the kitchen, Black Beauties are often used for making eggplant Parmesan. Bryant says the Ping Tung and Fairytale eggplants are tasty added to stir fries and cooked on the grill.

MORE: Here are some other eggplant recipes for you to experiment with in your kitchen.

Eight Fascinating Facts About Eggplant

fairytale and ping tung eggplants

Photo: Annie Corrigan (for WFIU)

Ping Tung and Fairytale Eggplants are tasty when added to stir fry dishes.

In putting together the show for you this week, we’ve compiled some of the most interesting, offbeat facts about eggplant.

You may know that eggplants are a great source of folic acid and potassium, and some studies say they help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, but here are some other fun facts you might not have known about eggplant.

Tips To Remember When Cooking With Eggplant

Eggplant can be pretty tricky to cook with. We’ve got three helpful tips that will ensure a better tasting AND a better looking dish.

  1. Eggplant tastes bitter – salt it, soak it, wash it off
  2. Eggplant is a sponge, soaks up lots of oil when you fry it
  3. Eggplant can be hard to roast, so consider grilling it instead

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Recipe: Eggplant Caviar

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggplant – salt, rince, squeeze
  • 5 branches thyme
  • 3 branches rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 2 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 4 cups white wine
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon gros sel
  • touch of curry
  • anchovies
  • lemons
  • lemon zest
  • chives
  • parsley

Roasting the Eggplant

  1. Rub eggplants with olive oil
  2. Roast eggplants in 350-375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until they collapse and become very soft to touch.

For the Dip

  1. Coarsely chop roasted eggplants and puree with all remaining ingredients in food processor.
  2. Finish with a bit of olive oil, fresh herbs and lemon
  3. Serve with toasted pita or pita chips

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Recipe: Eggplant Fries

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch x 4 inch slices
  • salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk or non-dairy milk
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup sorghum/sweet rice flour (combine the two)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • dash of smoked paprika
  • dash of Italian seasoning
  • dash of garlic powder
  • dash of black pepper

Directions:

  1. Peel and slice the eggplant. Then, set it in a colander in the sink. There will be little seeds inside, but you don’t need to worry about them.
  2. Sprinkle the slices with salt, and toss around, and then leave for 30 minutes to sweat. “Sweating” is important when preparing eggplant. The salt helps to extract the water.
  3. After 30 minutes, rinse the eggplant sticks off with water, and then spread on a paper-towel covered plate. Pat them dry with paper towels.
  4. In one bowl, beat the egg into the milk. In another bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, and seasonings.
  5. Heat oil in a shallow pan on high heat.
  6. Dredge the eggplant slices in the egg mixture, then in the flour mixture.
  7. Carefully fry the eggplant slices for 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crispy.
  8. Serve hot, with Green Goddess Dressing for dipping

Recipe: Green Goddess Dressing

yields: 2 ½ cups

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 salted anchovies
  • 3 scallions- thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • ¼ cup minced parsley
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons tarragon vinegar (or your favorite vinegar)
  • tabasco to taste
  • water as needed to thin

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients and season to taste.

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Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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