Eggplant season!

by Sarah on March 22, 2011

eggplant slices oven

Eggplants after baking

Eggplants have funky fashion, in their tight black. It’s the kind of alternative style preferred by certain artistic types or those who ride Harley-Davidsons. But really, wouldn’t the grandmothers think that ridiculous? Instead they imagine how these beauties will be transformed; perhaps into moussaka, baba-ganoush or maklouba. Or if they lack time, simply deep fried and served with a squeeze of lemon. They pick each one up, weighing it loosely in their hands. Too heavy means full of seeds, too soft it’s not fresh. In some seasons they know to avoid them altogether waiting patiently until the right time.

eggplant slices

Eggplant slices

The elongated eggplants that are available in Israel are not bitter and do not need to be salted and rinsed (this I know from a controlled experiment I once did). The hardest part of this recipe is finding the perfect eggplant, without it you might as well make something else.

Eggplants, This technique doesn’t work as well with the variegated variety, known as Sicilian eggplant although I am not sure why

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Cut the eggplant into 1-1 1/2 cm rounds. Brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange them in one layer on a parchment paper lined tray and put it in oven. After about 25 minutes, or when the eggplant begin to brown flip them to brown the other side as well. Remove from oven and serve immediately. I like to eat them sprinkled with parsley and lemon juice or with creamy labneh.

eggplant w/ tomato and cheese

A quick starter: Stack the roasted eggplant and tomatoes with a bit of feta and mozzarella between the slices. Bake at 180°C until the cheese begins to melt and the tomatoes soften.

Here are a few more ways to use eggplants:

Grilled Baby Eggplants with Date Syrup and Tehina

Turkish Meatballs in Smoky Eggplant Sauce

Pasta Alla Norma

Boyos, Eggplant and Meat Burek

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Yael March 22, 2011 at 10:27 am

Looks so tasty!

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Faye Levy March 22, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Beautiful! It’s so funny to see “eggplant season” in March. Conventional thinking is that it’s a summer veg.

What happened with the variegated eggplant?

Love your stacked eggplant. It looks scrumptious! Do you have good tomatoes right now? Did you use fresh mozzarella or the firmer kind that you grate? I suppose either would be fine.

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Sarah March 22, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Faye, Thanks! Summer isn’t the best time for fruits and vegetables in Israel. The weather is too extreme and the vegetables suffer, becoming wilted and dehydrated. Tomatoes are lovely now. I think I used buffalo mozzzarella in this recipe but any soft variety would work.

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Fun March 22, 2011 at 9:28 pm

OMG these eggplants look heavenly! I love your blog – and the recipes and beautiful photography. Thanks so much for sharing.

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Sarah March 22, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Thank you!

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Faye Levy March 25, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Thanks, Sarah, that is so interesting. When I grew tomatoes and eggplants in my garden in the Los Angeles area (the hottest part, where the summer temperature sometimes gets to 40C), tomatoes and eggplants gave their fruit in the summer and not in March. I compared the temperatures with those of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and most days they were quite similar.

At the markets in southern California there are eggplants of reasonable quality during most of the year but really good tomatoes are available mainly in the summer and autumn. People can get good tomatoes at other times for a high price; I guess these are hothouse tomatoes or perhaps imported from southern Mexico.

Are gardeners in Israel harvesting tomatoes and eggplants now, or do you think they are grown in hothouses?

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simcha March 28, 2011 at 2:01 am

I absolutely love eggplants. They have hit the bazaars here and the local shops. We have tried to make our favorite dishes but have been a bit disappointed. They are not behaving well, either being left raw or too mushy. I will be one of those lifting, smelling and waiting until the season really starts to satisfy our eggplant cravings.

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