Tiny royal purple eggplant. Sun yellow zucchini. A late summer rainbow at the farmer's market in St. Paul. Grabbing up handfuls to grill for supper, a lady stopped me and said, "Is that eggplant? I've never eaten eggplant. How do you fix it?" And while there are myriad ways to fix eggplant, I gave her the simplest, "Grill it. Throw it in a bowl and toss with some fresh herbs and pepper." The other easy way is to chop it into 1-2" pieces, scatter it (lightly salted) on a baking sheet, cover with foil and bake it @ 350 F for a half hour or so. Toss with chopped fresh tomatoes, a bit of chopped scallions, a pinch of crushed red pepper,and finely chopped basil. A quick sort of fresh American stab at ratatouille.
Eggplant has a distinctive flavor that is often enhanced by the addition of another vegetable; yellow (or green) zucchini suits it perfectly. Perhaps because without the skin, eggplant has little color. And color's important because we eat with our eyes first. If you're blessed with the tiny Japanese eggplant, you needn't peel them. If you have traditional, older and large eggplant, please peel before proceeding with this recipe. This isn't really a recipe, but what happened when these things came home from the market. (Also available in St. Paul markets are the small, round yellow Chinese eggplants that look something like tomatoes. Cut into fourths and use them instead if you like.)
And take the time to listen (see below) to Michael Franks sing about many ways to fix eggplant. Might make your day. It did mine.
Japanese Eggplant and Yellow Zucchini Grill serves 4
- 2 small, bright purple Japanese eggplant, sliced into 1/4- 1/3" rounds
- 2 medium yellow or green zucchini, ditto
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch crushed red pepper
- 2-3 T finely chopped fresh herbs (your choice--I like thyme, oregano or marjoram--even parsley is fine)
- 1T fresh lemon juice
- Preheat indoor or outdoor grill to medium.
- Meantime, clean well and slice the eggplant and zucchini.
- Toss with 2T olive oil and a pinch each of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.
- Grill in a basket, on a grill pan or on skewers for three or four minutes or. Turn or stir, then cook for another 2 minutes or so until vegetables are nearly tender with obvious grill marks on each side.
- Place in a bowl and toss with herbs and lemon juice.
- Eat hot, at room temperature, or cold.
For more info:
Food Network recipes for eggplant
Michael Franks singing "Eggplant"