I don’t really like eggplant. In fact I really used to hate it. Mushy pulp with slippery seeds – not for me. However, as a vegetarian, people seem to think that 1) eggplant is always a perfect substitute for meat and 2) that I love eggplant. As such, I’ve made it a recent mission to figure out how I can actually adopt a little affection for this vegetable.
There are two ways that I’ve had it and enjoyed it. First, if you’ve never had Saad’s baba ganoush, then you are missing out on one of the main reasons that pita was invented. It’s smoky and creamy, the absolute perfect combination of tahini and eggplant. Second, once I fried Indian eggplant – also good, but one can’t eat fried eggplant everyday. Other than that, I’ve rejected all of my grilled, steamed, sauteed, and lasagna’ed eggplant attempts. So after a visit to the Turkish market last Friday, I find myself once again with a rather large eggplant sitting in my fridge. What to do? I’ll admit, this baby almost became baba ganoush after a tempting offer of tahini from a friend, but I had no lemon juice. The thought of slicing it made me think of all the tough and bitter eggplant I’ve ever had. Not happening.
Then I stumbled upon this eggplant marmalade recipe, which I altered using a few different vegetables and cooking techniques. This, my friends, is eggplant heaven. In a only a few steps, you can transform baked eggplant into pasta sauce, sandwich filling, vegetable dish heaven! Also, added bonus – it’s a budget recipe!
I’ve got a lot more eggplant experimenting to do, but for now, I bring you eggplant marmalade, my first real e-plant success. For tips on how to use it and how much to make, see the text below the recipe.
yields about 1 cup, depending on the size of your vegetables
-1 large eggplant
-1 medium yellow onion, diced
-1/3 cup black olives, coarsely chopped
-2 medium tomatoes
-approx. 2 tbsp. olive oil
-3 cloves of garlic, minced
-salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Once the oven is hot, place the eggplant on a cookie sheet, and bake until soft and collapsed. (In order to prevent messiness, you can line your cookie sheet with foil). The baking took me about one hour. Once you’ve finished baking the eggplant, remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes. Then slice the eggplant, and scoop out all the flesh with a spoon. In a bowl, mash the eggplant with a fork. Don’t worry if it’s still stringy, you will cook it down in a moment. Set the eggplant aside.
Bring a medium pot of water to boil on the stove. Score the tomatoes with an “x,” and drop them into the water. Cook the tomatoes for about 3 minutes. Then remove them from the water, plunge them under a cold faucet, and peel the skins off. Cut the tomatoes into 1-in chunks, and let them drain in a colander. Meanwhile, dice the onion, and saute it in a medium saucepan for about 5 minutes in a glug of hot olive oil. (You’ll want to have a little more oil on hand to mix in later). While you are cooking the onions, dump out the water you boiled the tomatoes in, and return the tomatoes to this same pot. Cook them over a low heat with a dribble of olive oil. Stir them frequently. You’ll want to cook out most of the liquid from the tomatoes. Add a dash of salt to speed up the process.
In the other pot, after the onions have browned for a few minutes, reduce the heat to med-low, and add the eggplant, the olives, and the minced garlic. Stir and begin to reduce the liquid content. At this point, you can change the consistency of the mixture. Add more water if you want it juicier, or cook longer if you prefer it to be thicker. I added about 1/3 cup of water. Season the eggplant with salt and pepper, and continue cooking. I cooked the eggplant for about 15 minutes. Just before you have achieved the desired liquid content, add the tomatoes (which should contain little juice by this point) to the eggplant, and combine. Remove the pot from the heat, correct the seasonings, dribble a little more olive oil over the marmalade, and give in a last stir. My eggplant required a good deal of both salt and pepper.
-Chill the eggplant for a few hours, and eat it cold in pita, with some sliced cheese, bell peppers, and lettuce as a healthy sandwich.
-Double (or triple) the recipe, and serve it hot over pasta. I would suggest using a shell- or tube-shaped pasta which will “catch” more of the sauce. You may also want to increase the onion or tomato content.
-Serve it for breakfast with a poached egg on top.
-I haven’t tried this, but I suspect that it would also be tasty with some spicy peppers and maybe a tablespoon or two of good-quality vinegar mixed in. Serve with a soft cheese and crackers for a snack.