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Eggplant?

Today they had beautiful eggplants for sale at an awesome price at Aldi, so I bought one. I've never eaten an eggplant. I've never even seen one served. lol.

I've heard you can pretty much do anything you would do with a zucchini with an eggplant. I am very interested in hearing how you like to use them! What would you recommend for my first eggplant experience? ^_^ cheers and smiles!

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  1. My favorite way to eat eggplant is to use it instead of lasagne noodles in any lasagne recipe. Red sauce, ricotta, mushrooms, spinach, mozzarella... I just slice it, leave the skins on.

    Or - my next favorite is Emeril's Moussaka with potatoes at the bottom. He goes kind of heavy with the oil, so I don't fry everything first, I bake them.

    26 Replies
    1. re: kitchengardengal

      Does you use chicken or beef when you make Emeril's a Moussaka? I looked up his recipe and noticed it calls for chicken while others call for beef. I myself am a dhicken fan, so I'm thinking that sounds good! lol

      1. re: AprilxJoy

        I'm not the OP, but it really has to be lamb, if you want authentic. If I couldn't get, or make my own, ground lamb, I wouldn't bother.

        BTW the recipe I finally settled on was found here, someone's grandmother's. But you have to start somewhere!

        1. re: coll

          Alrighty, lamb it will be then! I've never cooked lamb, simply because it's a bit pricey. I think I'll make a side with my eggplant tonight and then try the moussaka next week. Looking forward to it! Thank you :)

          1. re: AprilxJoy

            If you can get it already ground, it's the same to cook as ground beef. Just a lot more flavor.

          2. re: coll

            <<"...but it really has to be lamb, if you want authentic..">>

            Not really. It is a dish from the Poli that uses ground beef. Lamb is fine, so is pork (GASP!) and in the USA most everyone uses the ubiquitous beef.

            A blend of meat is nice. 2 parts beef and 1 part lamb. But "authentic" means nothing anyway.
            If 'authentic' is what you seek, forget the type of meat and focus on mousaka NEVER has any potatoes. Unless you just want a single pot dish that is filling. Potatoes in mousaka are a filler. (They do taste good absorbing all the oil and flavours though...)

            1. re: Gastronomos

              I'm getting away from beef lately, so that too. I don't think I'd like it as much as with beef, even my meatballs now are pork and veal only.

              1. re: coll

                <<"...as with beef, even my meatballs now are pork and veal only.">>

                what if I tell you that I agree. So much so that I now use mostly venison in place of beef and carefully sourced pork is most often found in my kitchen. lamb, of course, but that is usually for lamb dishes, like Lamb fricassee:

                 
                 
                 
                1. re: Gastronomos

                  My sister occasionally gives me some ground venison and elk, plus roasts, and I've made meatloaf and shepherds pie with both of them.

                  I'm lucky my local grocery always has ground lamb in stock though, although I have thrown some together with blade steaks in a pinch.

                  1. re: coll

                    I've been subbing turkey for beef quite a bit lately. It's so much healthier and tasty!

                  2. re: Gastronomos

                    That fricasse looks great. What is the name of that preparation and is that an egg lemon sauce?

                    1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                      Lamb fricassee is what it's called and it is in an 'avgolemono' sauce, egg lemon sauce.

                      Recipes abound, but it's simple and a favorite in our home.

                      Browned / Seared Lamb, and escarole or fresh artichoke hearts, simmered, seasoned with fresh dill weed and thickened with avgolemono = egg lemon sauce.

                      1. re: Gastronomos

                        Alright, thanks, I thought maybe there was a more specific term for the version you made. The internet tells me something interesting:

                        "The French term fricassee refers to meat cooked by a method somewhere between a sauté and a stew and served with a white sauce. It is a mystery how this term came to define a totally different thing in Greek cuisine. We Greeks call fricassee (φρικασέ) any meat or even fish, that is cooked with greens and thickened with avgolémono (egg and lemon) sauce."

                        source: http://cookmegreek.blogspot.com/2013/...

                        After looking at pictures on google, I think your preparation is exceptionally nice - the avgolemono looks like silk.

                        Apologies to the OP for hijacking the eggplant conversation.

                        1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                          <<"...meat cooked by a method somewhere between a sauté and a stew and served with a white sauce.">>

                          that's what it is in Greek. Lamb, sauteed / seared / browned all over, braised / stewed in white wine and water until tender and greens (or artichokes) and fresh dill weed added till tender and thicked with a 'white sauce'. In most instances, but not all, in Greece and abroad it is an avgolemono. It could be a lemon sauce, sans eggs, but the naming would be the problem as it would then be "a la Polita".

                          As for your internet link, it's ONE opinion. And I fail to see any avgolemono sauce in any of the pictures. (It looks watery like my MiL's - LOL)And probably why the author FAILS at "how this term came to define" ...Anything actually. I'm sure the food Tastes good, but it sure ain't avgolemono sauce for sure.
                          Greece is a large place with many islands and mountainous areas that offer regional cuisine beyond what is found in France or Italy. It's a basic, foundational cusine, not a refined or overorchestrated one. All French "mother sauces" have their origin in Greek Cuisine. And the one cusine that gave the original term "Mediterranean diet" it's merit.

                          Although it's not my exact recipe, one of my favourite Greek cooking blogs offers this recipe:

                          http://www.kalofagas.ca/2008/02/06/la...

                          1. re: Gastronomos

                            Ah I see. Thanks for setting the record straight!

                          2. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                            i've never really had a fricassee with a white sauce

                    2. re: coll

                      I've made eggplant meatballs, they came out pretty good and depending, on the ingredients used, tasty.

                      1. re: treb

                        Eggplant Fritters (Melitzanokeftedes) are very tasty!

                         
                         
                        1. re: treb

                          Care to share how you did that? I experimented with trying to use a ground eggplant one time and never had much success, would like to hear how you made yours.

                          1. re: jrvedivici

                            Don't know what Treb did, but I would shred rather than grind it. I use a mandoline to make a long julienne for CHOW's red pepper-eggplant-tomato sauce because it's a meatier mouth-feel than diced eggplant. I think a box shredder would be okay if you don't have a mandoline or a julienne blade for the food processor. Then to make a meatball, salt a little, which will collapse it somewhat. Then rinse and pat dry before combining with binder, eggs, onion, etc.

                            1. re: jrvedivici

                              Sure, medium dice the eggplant and blanch in boiling water for about 10 min. Cool and then squeeze liquid out using your hands. In a bowl add, depending on the amount of eggplant, 2 eggs, equal amounts of bread crumbs and some flour to bind, lots of grated parm, S&P, chopped parsley. Chill the mix for about 15 min. Just think of good ingredients that you would use with meatballs but, don't skimp on the flavors as eggplant can be pretty bland. Make golf ball sized rounds, roll in flour and fry them up. Taste good alone or add to a marinara sauce and simmer for about 30 mins.

                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                Interesting, thank you both Grey & Treb. I'll give your methods a try.

                      2. re: AprilxJoy

                        I use lamb or beef or a combo depending on what is readily available.

                        1. re: melpy

                          Good to know. Most of the recipes I saw used beef. In fact I didn't see any with lamb. It can be so hard to know what is authentic when you aren't familiar with a dish!

                          1. re: AprilxJoy

                            Since moussaka is Greek dish, it should be lamb. You can also make it vegetarian using mushrooms in place of meat. Not authentic but delicious - just saying :)

                            1. re: herby

                              <<"Since moussaka is Greek dish, it should be lamb.">>

                              Not really. It is a dish from the Poli that uses ground beef. Lamb is fine, so is pork (GASP!) and in the USA most everyone uses the ubiquitous beef.

                              A blend of meat is nice. 2 parts beef and 1 part lamb. But "authentic" means nothing anyway. If 'authentic' is what you seek, forget the type of meat and focus on mousaka NEVER has any potatoes. Unless you just want a single pot dish that is filling. Potatoes in mousaka are a filler. (They do taste good absorbing all the oil and flavours though...)

                      3. Eggplant itself doesn't have a lot of flavor. It does take up other flavors easily, so it's great in stews, braises or curries.

                        You can roast it, too, until very soft and make baba ganoush or serve as is Turkish style, cut in half with some garlicky tomato sauce and fresh yogurt.

                        There are amazing recipes out there for eggplant. It's one of my favorite veggies, but it can be tricky to bring out its good side. They're great grilled, too, but it takes a lot of practice to get it just right.

                        Let us know what you've decided to make.

                        1. There is more prep to using eggplant. After peeling and slicing, you want to salt them, both sides. Place on a couple of layers of paper towels, then top w/ paper towels. Place a heavy sheetpan over them and let it sit. I don't rinse the salt off but I know people who do. I love it breaded and pan fried but it absorbs a scary amount of oil. What I normally do is bread it lightly, spray and bake on a cookie sheet. I'm with kitchengardengal on favorite uses--either as lasagna noodles or moussaka.

                          1. A great gateway is to make them like chicken cutlet or veal milanese.

                            I prefer it peeled but you can eat the peel.

                            Peel.
                            Cut into 1/8-1/4 inch rounds.
                            Dredge in flour.
                            Dip in egg.
                            Dip in seasoned breadcrumbs.
                            Pan fry in a neutral oil.
                            Sprinkle with parm cheese and parsley.

                            Can serve as eggplant parm by adding sauce and cheese. You can stack and do a tower or layer and bake.

                            I am also a fan of Moussaka.

                            1. When eggplant is on sale (or in a few months, when I can pick it in my garden!) I have two go-tos that I prefer. First would be peel, slice thinly, bread and deep fry. I don't salt beforehand, don't find it necessary. But after frying, definitely give them a good sprinkle of kosher salt. At that point, you can eat them as is like an appetizer, layer them on a sandwich with some mayo, cheese and tomatoes, or make eggplant parmigiana for a heartier meal.

                              My other favorite, especially if I'm in the mood for healthy food, is to cut it in half, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a few herbs and spices of your choice. I like to go exotic, Middle Eastern style. Then put on a baking sheet and cook at 400 for about a half hour. Then you can scrape out the pulp and make a dip by adding a bit of yogurt and maybe some more finishing spices, like smoked paprika. In the summer, same deal but on the grill for a shorter time, until it starts to burn. Some pita bread and feta cheese and you have a meal fit for a king!

                              If you're having company or feel like spending the afternoon in the kitchen, moussaka is great once or twice a year. Funny, seems like all of us have the same basic favorites! But one I just started making is a Chinese recipe called Strange Eggplant Appetizer, a delicious starter for any meal. I have another stir fry dish I occasionally make with mostly eggplant too, so if you want to go that route let me know.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: coll

                                Just to add to the roasted suggestions - if you have a gas stove or are grilling, you can basically just poke some holes into the eggplant with a fork and roast it directly on the flame until the skin gets all charred and all the flesh is soft and gets to be a light brown color. Scrape of the skin/char and then mix the flesh with olive oil, garlic and some parsley (tahini optional).

                                Eggplant works very well with a good smoky flavor.

                                1. re: cresyd

                                  I like to almost burn it in the oven, so I know what you mean. I'm too lazy to stand there holding it over the flame of the burner though.

                                  I also almost always use smoked salt flakes and smoked paprika on this, that helps the flavor a lot.

                                  1. re: coll

                                    Yeah, does take a bit more time rotating the eggplant and keeping a closer eye on it - but it really does amazing things to the flavor.

                                    1. re: cresyd

                                      I hear that about tacos too, but me being me, I just microwave them.