With its silky texture and nutty flavor, eggplant always has been a favorite of ours. But the glossy-skinned nightshade fruit seems to attract as many detractors as afficionados – people either love them or just don’t get them. In fact, those who are confounded by eggplants are inevitably folks who’ve never had a chance to taste them done right. My absolute favorite way to make eggplant is simple: Cut them up in chunks, toss them with olive oil, chopped garlic and a smidge of salt, and roast them into the oven. Of course, the eggplant has to be firm and not overripe, with its characteristic high sheen. It can be peeled or not peeled, depending on how you like it – I like the skin, so I don’t peel. Once roasted thus, the chunks can be used in all sorts of ways – or eaten as is (my fave). They can be tossed with pasta, to which you also add chopped herbs, such as parsley, mint or basil, a squeeze of lemon juice to bring out the sweetness of the eggplant, and topped with copious amounts of feta cheese. Or add the roasted chunks to a tossed salad, as did our host at book club a couple of weeks ago, resulting in our discussing the food way more than the book. For more ideas on eggplants, come back to this space over the next few days, or better yet, join us at the US Botanic Garden, at the foot of Capitol Hill in Washington DC or at Brookside Garden in Wheaton. This is eggplant month and we’ll be doing lots of fun things with them.
One large eggplant
1/3 C olive oil, more as needed
3 large garlic cloves, minced
½ t coarse salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel eggplant if desired, cut into similar-sized chunks. Place in large plastic bag. Add olive oil and toss so all eggplant chunks are coated in all olive oil. Ad more as needed. Mix garlic and salt. Add to eggplant chunks and toss to cover. Spread eggplant on a large cookie sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil, or use a non-stick cookie sheet. Roast
20-25 minutes until golden and cooked through. Serve hot or room temperature.