roasted baby eggplant with strained yogurt and mint

So you know when you’re transferring photos off a memory card that you haven’t used in a while, and you find a bunch of pictures that you completely forgot about? For most folks, I imagine this involves pictures of the really adorable but much-too-young person you had a fling with a few months ago (whoops), or a series of your own fine self draping your arms around the shoulders of people at a party that you only have hazy memories of attending (triple whoops), or maybe a really cute photo of your friend’s kid that you said you would TOTALLY send, like, tomorrow, but never actually did (whoopsy daisy), or possibly even several out-of-focus photos of a red spot on your lip that you thought might be a cold sore but wanted to send to your uncle who’s a doctor just to confirm (it’s a pimple).

In my case, I often find pictures of food that I completely forgot about cooking — this, when I’m often convinced that I haven’t cooked anything in weeks and therefore have nothing to post about. When I was downloading pictures yesterday for the sautéed shrimp recipe, I noticed that, gee, I had actually made quite a few things since January and taken quite a lot of not-so-great pictures of them. No matter. One of my unofficial new year’s “resolutions,” if they can be called that, is to put the mediocre things I make and do out into the world — even if they are really embarrassing (more on this another day). Next year’s quasi-resolution will be to do that without apologies but, in the meantime, I am truly sorry for not giving my outdoor table even a cursory wipe before taking these pictures. Alas, my secret menu muse strikes like a toddler having a temper tantrum: take a picture IMMEDIATELY and NO you may NOT wipe off the table or find a nicer dish in the garage because you need to EAT RIGHT NOW!!!!

Luckily, these eggplants are delicious. The trick with eggplant, as I’ve figured out through trial and error, is to cook it quite a bit longer than you think you need to. Squishy eggplants shall inherit the earth; chewy ones will make your tongue sting and your throat itch. So, yeah, you will need to set aside about an hour for the following recipe, but I promise it’s worth it.

Roasted Baby Eggplants with Yogurt and Mint
Serves 2

Ingredients:
-4-6 baby eggplants (Indian or Japanese)
-2-3 tbs olive oil
-3-4 peeled garlic cloves, halved
-a few shakes of kosher salt
-4-6 tbs strained yogurt (lebni or full-fat Greek yogurt both work nicely)
-4-6 walnut halves, chopped (optional)
-1 tsp dried mint leaves, crushed

Preheat your oven to 450°F. Trim the eggplant stems to under 1 inch, peel the green leaves surrounding the caps, and use a fork to poke a few holes in each eggplant. Toss the eggplants and the halved garlic cloves with olive oil and a little kosher salt, and place them in a deep iron skillet or other oven-safe pan.

Roast the eggplants for about 40 minutes, until they’re very soft. You can cover them with foil if you’re worried about them losing moisture, but if you use enough oil this won’t really be a problem.

When the eggplants are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool for 5-10 minutes. Once they’ve cooled, slice each eggplant open on top and fill with a dollop of the strained yogurt. Sprinkle with dried mint and serve immediately (or, as my kitchen muse says: RIGHT NOW DO IT RIGHT NOW!!!).

For an extra bit of oomph: mix some chopped walnuts into the yogurt before you dollop.

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One comment

  1. Bodoc

    Totally agree with the need to REALLY cook the eggplant. Here in SMA, Mexico, we’ve had some wonderful cheese and sauce on undercooked “berenjena” paremesan. It wasn’t undercooked by a lot, but by enough….to spoil what could have been quite wonderful.

    I also suffer from itchy mouth from undercooked eggplant. My theory: there is a protein we are somewhat allergic to that is “denatured” (broken down) by heat, destroying the allergen.

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