Vegan Grandma

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Vegan Eggplant Caviar and a Little About Eggplants

Today I had an eggplant that I thought I’d better use as soon as possible, so I made eggplant caviar. There are many different recipes for this, so I combined several recipes. According to Darra Goldstein, in her recipe book, The Georgian Feast, eggplant caviar comes from the region around the Caucasus mountain range. Eggplant caviar is a lot like baba ghanoush, a Middle Eastern dish. Baba Ghanoush usually contains tahini, while eggplant caviar uses olive oil.

Vegan Eggplant Caviar
serves 6

1 large eggplant, unpeeled
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Lemon slice for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Wash eggplant thoroughly, then pierce the skin with a fork in several places. Place on a baking sheet and roast until the skin darkens and becomes crisp. Remove from the oven and cool.

Cut the eggplant in half, scoop out the pulp with a spoon and place in a medium-sized bowl. Mix in remaining ingredients. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly. Garnish with lemon slice if desired. Place on a serving dish and chill.

Serve as an appetizer or a side dish.

A Little About Eggplant

Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes.

Eggplant must always be eaten cooked to eliminate a toxic substance called solanine.

Eggplant is not particularily high in nutrients (colorful veggies have more antioxidents, but the edible part of the eggplant is white). One fifth of an average eggplant has about 25 calories, no fat, hardly any sodium, 2 grams of fiber, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of protein, 2 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C requirement, and 2 percent of the recommended daily iron requirement (based on a 2,000 calorie diet). However, eggplants can be used to make some really tasty dishes.

The peak season for eggplant is from August to September but eggplants are plentiful year round.

Eggplant can be any size from small to very large and may be egg-shaped to almost round. Good quality eggplant should be firm, dark-colored with smooth & shiny skin and relatively light for its size. Avoid eggplants that are soft, have blemishes, discolored marks or soft spots. If the Eggplant has wrinkled and dull colored skin, this indicates that the eggplant is past its prime. Eggplants become more bitter as they age.

The seeds make eggplant bitter, but are hard to remove. Male eggplants contain fewer seeds. To determine if the eggplant is male or female, the male plant will have a well-rounded bottom, and the stem area will be smooth. The female plant will have a smaller, narrow bottom, and the stem area will be indented.

Eggplants are very perishable. It’s best to use them the day you buy them, if possible. To keep them longer, place the eggplants in a plastic bag and keep them in a cool spot at room temperature. Refrigerating them makes them deteriorate faster.

To remove acridness and excess moisture, lightly salt slices of eggplant and allow them to sit in a colander for 10-15 minutes. Gently squeeze out any liquid. This will also reduce the amount of oil the eggplant absorbs when fried

Eggplant should not be cooked in an aluminum pot because the eggplant will become discolored.

To Stuff: Bake only 20 minutes, scoop out seeds, fill the eggplants with stuffing and return to oven for 15 minutes.

To Steam: Whole eggplant will steam with an inch of water in 15-30 minutes or until tender. Use the flesh for pulp or season with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper or cover in a tomato sauce.

To Fry: Salt sliced eggplant, then coat slices in flour. Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add coated eggplant slices and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn over and brown the other side, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

To roast slices: Grease a rimmed baking sheet. Salt and dry eggplant slices and place them close together on the baking sheet. Roast in a 400 degree F. oven until browned, about 35 to 40 minutes.

To roast whole: Pierce skin with a fork in several places. Place on a baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees F. until the skin wrinkles and the flesh becomes tender. (30 minutes to 1 hour). Cool, cut in half, and scoop out the pulp. Use for dips and spreads, and for thickening and flavoring soups.

Grill slices with other vegetables, such as peppers, or skewer and grill along with other shish-kabob ingredients.


Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tips, by David Joachim, published by Rodale

Grandmother’s Food Secrets, by dr. Myles H. Bader, published by Mylette Enterprises, LLC, Las Vegas, NV 89102


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