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25 September 2009

How did I start liking Eggplant?

Here's a weird thing: I never liked eggplant. When I was little we had to eat it and it was terrible. More recently I thought I would try it because I had been discovering all sorts of things that I hated as a child and now I like. It was still terrible. Even more recently I had some grilled, and that was pretty good, but I just figured, I'm never going to be able to do that myself because our grill probably won't be up and running anytime soon. I'd pretty much written off eggplant for good. But hey, we just moved into this great new apartment with a gas stove instead of electric, and I discovered that I can use the broiler pretty much just like the grill. So I "grilled" some eggplant a couple of weeks ago, just brushed with olive oil, and I think that was the only thing Lovemuffin ate that night. It was very good. I've been doing it about twice a week for the last 3 weeks. Last night I let it soak for a few minutes in oil and balsamic vinegar, and it was fabulous. So tonight I am doing that again with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and some summer squashes along with the eggplant and I bet you could add any other vegetable that takes the same amount of time to cook, like mushrooms, onions, or even fennel bulbs. This would be great with some grilled meat and rolls or potatoes with herbs like rosemary, oregano and basil.

It doesn't take long to make this delightful concoction. Here's what I've been doing: Cut the eggplant into your favorite size and shape of pieces, I like to do pieces of about 1 x 1 x 2 inches, but you could do 1/2 inch slices or long skinny spears, whatever you like. Sprinkle the cut eggplant with salt and let it sit while you prepare your other veggies. Cut your other vegetables into similar sizes and shapes, and place them in a bowl. Rinse and dry the pieces of eggplant and put them in the vegetable bowl. Drizzle with the oil and vinegar, sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss to coat each piece, and let set for about 15 minutes, or even longer. (In the meantime you can prepare other parts of your meal, or write your blog, or anything really.) Then place the veggie pieces on your broiler pan or hot grill and let them cook for about 5 minutes. They should start getting a little brown, not too brown at this point, and be making a sizzling noise. Take them out of the broiler and turn the pieces, rotate any in from the edge that aren't brown at all and place them closer to the heat source. Let them broil for 5 more minutes. Check them again, they should be a bit darker now, and still sizzling away. Turn them and rotate them on the pan once more and put them back in the broiler, this time checking it every 2 minutes to make sure they aren't burning. When everything is a delightful shade of toastiness, and the eggplant looks kind of shriveled, remove from the broiler and serve.

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