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Is it eggplant or is it aubergine?

No matter your preference...I used to grow it. And a lot of it. My boyfriend is growing several varieties this year so with his very green thumb, I know we’re going to have a lot more than I could ever grow.

Now, I bet you're wondering what in the world we're going to do with all that eggplant. Well, cook it, of course! I know, this is not a terribly familiar vegetable in these parts. We're more into the zucchini and yellow squash families but come on, let's live a little! Bring some eggplant/aubergine into your life. We need to head to the Mediterranean for a good portion of them and I am going to share so that you can start experimenting for yourself. Remember, it's all attitude! You CAN cook eggplant. It is not hard to do; it is a wonderful supporting member of a dish or can be great on its own. You can even use it as a very acceptable meat substitute for that favorite vegetarian in your life. Meatless Monday, here we come! Some thoughts to conjure with. You don't necessarily have to purge the "bitterness" from eggplant. The young fruit is not tough and should not be bitter because it has fewer or no seeds. It's those big seeds that make it bitter. Also, young fruit should not become spongy (gross!) from absorbing too much liquid. There's a time saver for salting and purging. Peeling is a matter of choice. Again, young fruit will not have a tough exterior so it's up to you. Of course, I'm assuming you're choosing the young ones in the produce aisle. Try moussaka, eggplant parmigiana or just grill or roast it with olive oil, salt and pepper then serve it with your favorite pasta sauce and some crusty bread. You can’t go wrong.

Tips for choosing eggplant (if it's not growing in your garden)

  • Choose smaller eggplants, not longer than 6"

  • Look for smooth, shiny and unblemished flesh (no big brown spots and no wrinkles)

  • Test the weight - does it seem heavy for its size? It should!

Start with those tips, go forth and buy eggplant and if you must have a's one of my personal favorites, just right for summer! And, yes, it has some different flavors, but it is Sicilian! Caponata is typically served as a side to grilled meat or as a condiment on a charcuterie platter. This version is much less oily than the more traditional sauteed recipe.


Grilled Eggplant Caponata

Serves 8

  • ½ cup olive oil

  • 1 large Spanish onion, thickly sliced

  • 3 tbsp pine nuts

  • 3 tbsp currants

  • 1 tbsp hot chili flakes, plus extra for garnish

  • 2 medium eggplant, peeled and thickly sliced lengthwise

  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced into thick strips

  • 1 cup whole grape tomatoes

  • 2 tbsp sugar

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

  • ½ tsp dried thyme

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Heat a grill (indoors or out) to medium high heat. If you're outdoors, you will need to use a grilling basket or foil so the smaller pieces don't fall through the grate. Drizzle onion, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes with olive oil and salt and pepper. Keep onions separate. Toss, making sure that all vegetables are well coated. Grill vegetables until all have grillmarks and are slightly softened. Cool the vegetables and then chop into medium dice.

  2. In a large saute pan, over medium heat, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the grilled onions, pine nuts, currants and chili flakes and saute until softened.

  3. Add the rest of the grilled vegetables, sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Add the thyme and balsamic vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil.

  4. Lower the heat and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Serve.


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