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Eggplant Extravaganza

by Rebecca Sweet

I’ve been traveling a lot this summer and am so glad to finally be home!  But after nearly five weeks away you can imagine the state of my garden.

Fortunately (for my garden, not for me!), my husband was home for most of the time so he was able to keep it watered and somewhat under control – but you know how it is.  While most everything survived, there is an overwhelming amount of staking, pruning and dead-heading to be done.

One of the things I was really excited about was to see the progress of the Japanese eggplants that I planted for the first time this year.  I’ve never been a huge fan of the taste of eggplant, but I absolutely adore the plant itself.  What’s not to love about the adorable purple flower or the big, leathery leaves punctuated with deep plum colored veins and stems?  Even though this is a vegetable, it’s beautiful enough to be at home in any ornamental garden bed.

I planted the Japanese variety hoping the small, slender shapes of the eggplants wouldn’t be quite as intimidating to my family (and to me) as the regular, giant variety.

Just look at my bounty!  The perfect amount for a super easy recipe I’ve been wanting to try.  

This is a perfect summer recipe, as it includes lots of herbs – most of which were growing in my garden just waiting to be harvested.

Was it a success?  Absolutely!  I’m happy to say that my family ate every last eggplant and are anxiously awaiting a new crop to appear.

I’m curious – what are your favorite ways to eat them?

Baked Japanese Eggplant with Herbs

3 eggplants, halved lengthwise

2 green onions, chopped

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 tbs. freshly chopped basil

1/2 tsp. freshly chopped thyme

1/3 c. olive oil

2 tbs. parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp. ground pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  After pricking the flesh to allow the herbs to penetrate, place the eggplant halves in a medium roasting pan.

2.  Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until blended well.

3.  Spread the paste evenly on the eggplants

4.  Bake for 40 minutes or until the they’re tender and the tops are lightly browned.

To eat, just scoop the velvety mixture from the skin and enjoy!

 

{ 15 comments }

Lydia Plunk August 18, 2012 at 12:56 am

Cut on the bias, brushed with fresh lemon juice and EVEO grilled is my favorite.
One son likes them sliced, breaded, deep fried and served with Ranch dressing.
The other loves eggplant Parmigiana.
My husband likes the large ones stuffed like a mushroom- with breading and ham- but only when the weather is cold. One thing it was not last week was cold):-

Rebecca Sweet August 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm

We tried them grilled with EVEO, salt & pepper last week and they were DELICIOUS – I can’t believe my picky, picky daughter scarfed them up! I’ll try lemon juice next time – thanks for the tip. Yes, I’m definitely an eggplant newbie!!

Laura August 14, 2012 at 4:42 pm

I am so jealous! I tried eggplant one summer but the plant didn’t even bloom it was so cold.

I might try at a neighbor’s garden next year since she has more sun.

Such beauties!

Gatsbys Gardens August 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I grew Hansel and Gretel smaller eggplants last year and I am afraid that they were not a great taste treat with my family. I made eggplant parmesean and I guess one meal of them was enough, did not grow them this year. Yours look delicious and more like regular eggplant, mine were purple and lavender striped.

Eileen

Rebecca Sweet August 13, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Sorry to hear that, Eileen, though they sound like they were beautiful at least. I wonder if anyone else has had similar results with this variety?

Curbstone Valley Farm August 13, 2012 at 10:08 am

We grew Japanese eggplant this year too, for the same reason. I’m always a bit overwhelmed by the traditional large aubergine’s, and not particularly fond of their texture. I love these though! I find their texture is less mushy when cooked. I love to simply grill them, brushed with olive oil, and sprinkled with a little sea salt. This recipe sounds lovely though, I have a lot of fresh herbs in the garden (and a lot more eggplant!) so I’ll definitely try this. I bet your kitchen smelled wonderful while this baked!

Rebecca Sweet August 13, 2012 at 10:52 am

You’re the second person who recommended grilling them with a little olive oil and sea salt, so it seems that’s the next thing we’ll be trying. I agree – they’re definitely less mushy than the regular variety. That’s the thing that gets me – the mush factor. We had a Thai dish last night with the most delicious curry but with giant chunks of mushy eggplant throughout. I’m definitely a fan of the Japanese variety!

Curbstone Valley Farm August 15, 2012 at 9:29 am

We tried this recipe last night, as we’re up to our ears in Japanese Long-Purple and Little Fingers eggplant this week, and the Listada de Gandia are almost ready to harvest too. The sweetness of the onion, and the flavor of the herbs, was fantastic. It made the kitchen smell divine too! Will definitely make this again. Thanks for sharing Rebecca!

Rebecca Sweet August 15, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Oh I’m so glad your family liked it as much as mine did! We made them again, only this time I doubled the recipe. The herb topping kept really well and made it super easy to make again a few days later. Too bad I don’t have any left on my little plants! Oh well, Farmer’s Market is tomorrow night…..

suzanne August 13, 2012 at 9:24 am

Will have to try this recipe, it sounds great! I make a noodle-less lasagna using eggplant and zucchini cut lengthwise (lightly grilled) and layer with ricotta cheese and sauce with mozz on top (bake like you would for lasagna). It’s delicious and very low carb.

Rebecca Sweet August 13, 2012 at 9:26 am

WOW! Sounds very interesting and healthy as well. I have no doubt my family would love this – thanks!!

Laura Balaoro August 13, 2012 at 9:17 am

I should try your recipe. Sounds so yummy. Have you tried the “Black Chu Chu” variety. We trialed this at the Master Gardener trial garden and it came out to be one of the favorites. Fruit is small and roundish but good. I also like Rosa Bianca. If I still have some harvest when I see you next month, will bring some for your family to try.

Rebecca Sweet August 13, 2012 at 9:21 am

I haven’t tried the ‘Black Chu Chu’, Laura, but am thinking I definitely need to – sounds beautiful! And thanks for your offer to share some next month…hoping you get a bountiful harvest! :)

Kerry August 13, 2012 at 8:42 am

I LOVE eggplant just roasted with a little olive oil and salt. It’s good hot or room temperature. Your recipe sounds great too.

Rebecca Sweet August 13, 2012 at 8:56 am

Thanks Kerry! Maybe we’ll get a little braver next time and try it without all the garlic and basil…..

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