Cooking with What's In Season: Eggplant, Summer Through Early Fall

Eggplants are one of those divisive food—people tend to love them, or turn their noses up at them. I myself have a rather sordid past with them. I used to be a hater. I thought that they were heavy, bland, even gluey. But one day, I just decided to give them another try, and to my surprise, I now sort of loved them.

Here’s why: they are so neutral, that they tend to take on whatever they are flavored with. To me, an eggplant is like a potato. And that gluey texture of yore, I now found silky smooth. There are a few adjustments that aid in the preparation that can make this vegetable more palatable to those of you who are still on the fence about the eggplant.

I find that peeling the eggplant is almost a necessity. (Unless you are eating those tiny, newly picked eggplant.) It is not that the skin is inedible; it just doesn’t taste very good. After peeling the eggplant I like to salt the vegetable and leave it to set for around half an hour. An eggplant is like a sponge and sucks up any liquid. It also can contain a bitter juice. Salting it prior to cooking leaches out this liquid.

Once you have these few simple rules, the culinary world is your eggplant. In this recipe, I have taken a Mediterranean bent on the eggplant, and have made a salad with plain yogurt. The tang of the yogurt plays nicely with the subtle heat from a pepper, and the cooling contrast of some fresh mint. Try it—you may like it!

Mediterranean Eggplant Salad

- 6 cups eggplant, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes

- 2 tablespoons olive oil

- ..." cup plain yogurt

- ½ lemon, juiced

- ¼ - ½ teaspoon jalapeno, finely minced

- 1-2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped

- salt

Place eggplant in a colander on top of a plate. Sprinkle liberally with salt, toss gently, and let sit for 15-30 minutes. After time has passed, some liquid may have leached out of the vegetable. Discard, and continue with the rest of the recipe.

In a large skillet, over medium high heat, warm olive oil until shimmering. Add the eggplant, tossing in the olive oil. Brown the eggplant on all sides, tossing occasionally. Eggplant should be cooked, and browned in about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, and place vegetable in a mixing bowl to cool slightly.

Add yogurt to eggplant, tossing well to coat. Squeeze half of a lemon, jalapeno, mint, and additional salt if needed. Mix completely. Salad is good by itself, or served on top of crackers or sliced baguette.

What is your favorite to use eggplant? Chime in below!

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