The summer gardening frenzy is in full swing and once again I’m asking: What am I going to do with all this eggplant/zucchini/chard, etc? I never learn. I didn’t even learn after what my husband calls, “the summer of the eggplant.” Who knew three plants would produce so much eggplant we would be eating it EVERY DAY!? He revolted and refused to eat anymore eggplant, but fortunately not until just before the growing season was over. Actually, that was even a little too much eggplant for me, and it’s my favorite vegetable.
I think I’ve mentioned my 5-year rotation on recipes before. I just like to try a lot of new dishes, especially if there is a unique ingredient or cooking method involved. Not all of these experiments are successful. Creamed chard with xanthan gum comes to mind. I have never tasted something so gross. I think the recipe stated that the xanthan gum thickens the sauce without dulling the flavor. Trust me, stick with béchamel sauce or a cream reduction.
I do, however, have a few recipes that I make over and over again. One of my goals with this blog is to capture those go-to recipes in one location. Easy to share with friends and family, and I can access them easily. This eggplant is one of those go-to recipes. We eat a lot of Indian food, and this is the vegetable side dish I often turn to. The only negative is that this dish, like many made with eggplant, does not freeze well. So, if you make it, plan to eat all of it in the next few days. The good news is that it’s just as good warmed up the next day as the day you made it.
Minty Sweet and Sour Eggplant
This eggplant goes well with any Indian food. It’s combination of sweet, sour, and salty flavors are a great complement to curries as well as grilled meats. The best eggplant to use are the smaller thinner Asian types. If you must use the large globe eggplant, slice it in half lengthwise and then into half moon slices. The eggplant can be broiled and the casserole prepared several hours ahead of time.
2.5 pounds eggplant
6 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint leaves, plus more fresh leaves for garnish
Position a rack in the top rack of the oven and preheat the broiler on high.
Brush a sheet pan with oil. Slice the eggplant 1/3 inch thick or slice into half moons as described above. Place the eggplant in a single layer in the sheet pan. (Note: you may need more than one pan.) Brush the eggplant on both sides with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn the slices over and broil the other side, about 2 minutes. Eggplant should be cooked through in the middle, but not falling apart. Remove the pan of eggplant from the oven and set aside. Turn off the broiler and preheat the oven to 350.
Toast the cumin seeds in a small pan until they release their fragrance, about 1 minute. Place in a small bowl with the remaining ingredients.
Place the eggplant slices in a 9 x 12 baking dish, slightly overlapping as seen in the photos. After one layer is in place dribble about a third of the seasoning mixture over the eggplant. Repeat with two remain layers of eggplant and seasoning.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs by Julia Child