Friday, November 23, 2012
The first step in making eggplant is buying eggplant (unless you are lucky enough to grow your own in a place that is warm enough to allow a long growing season). Purchasing an eggplant takes skill. An eggplant can be bitter. There are some theories on how to select an eggplant that is less likely to be bitter. I prefer the smaller types of eggplant. Smaller eggplants tend to have thinner skin and less seeds. Choose an eggplant with smooth skin without wrinkles or bruise marks. (This is beginning to sound like beauty hints. And the next sentence will not help the situation!) Look for an eggplant with a firm and round bottom; avoid an eggplant with a deeply dimpled bottom.
If you happen to buy a questionable eggplant because it is not the peak harvesting season (late summer), you can take some steps to help reduce possible bitterness. If the skin is thick, remove the eggplant (with a potato peeler). I like to leave the skin on the eggplant because it holds the shape and I think it tastes good. I do not like the often mentioned salt and drain method. I prefer to cut the eggplant into slices about 1" thick, spray with oil, and grill on my counter top grill until softened. I pile the browned eggplant slices into a colander, place a plastic bowl cover over the eggplant, and then weight the whole thing with a 5 pound bag of flour. Let the whole thing sit on a plate to catch the bitter liquid for at least an hour (or refrigerate overnight).
Small young eggplant purchased in season do not require draining. Grill and use.
Eggplant prepared by pre-grilling can be used for any eggplant recipe.
Grilled Eggplant Parmesan
Prepare and grill eggplant. Coat the bottom of an oven safe casserole with tomato puree. Layer with eggplant. Add another layer of tomato puree. Top with provolone cheese slices. Optional: Sprinkle with panko. Bake until bubbling hot (375', about 20 minutes).
NOTE (about nutritional benefits of eggplant)