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Eggplant Enthusiasms

December 18, 2013 By:
Rivka Tal
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They used to say that every Israeli housewife knew at least 50 ways to prepare eggplant. Indeed, in the early years of the Jewish state, eggplant was abun­dant, relatively cheap and often used as a meat substitute.
 
Well, eggplants truly are incredibly malleable and versatile, and here are just a few ideas to use those majestic, purple vegetables, which are like no others.
 
Halved Eggplant With Tahini
(Pareve)
 
2 whole eggplants 
prepared tahini with garlic
 
Preheat oven to 375˚. Pierce whole eggplants at least half­way through five times per side.
 
Roast the eggplant until tender and charred, about 20 minutes. Let cool and cut in half lengthwise. Place on a platter and fill each half with garlic-rich tahini; sprinkle with parsley.
 
Israeli Vegetarian Chopped Liver
(Pareve)
There are many versions of vegetarian chopped liver: Some use green beans and/or walnuts and/or mushrooms. This simple one uses eggplants.
 
2 medium eggplants 
5 eggs
2 onions, chopped 
1⁄4 cup canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
chopped cilantro and/or parsley
 
Cut the eggplants into 1-inch cubes. Sprinkle with salt and place in a colander and leave for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, hard-boil eggs. Rinse under cold running water and shell. Cut roughly into about thirds.
 
Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet. Saute onions until brown. Add cubed eggplant and garlic and continue to saute until eggplant is tender, about 15 minutes. 
 
Place the eggplant-onion mix­ture into the food processor. Add the eggs, salt and pepper and pulse until a coarse mixture is formed.
 
Chill until use. Garnish with a bit of chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley.
 
Serves 8.
 
Baba Ghanoush
(Pareve)
Baba Ghanoush is a delicious smoky dip that is often sold laden with mayonnaise. You can make your own version with less mayo, but do try this tahini-based version.
 
2 large eggplants
1⁄2 cup tahini, plus more as needed
5 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄2 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
 
Prick the surface of each eggplant several times with a knife.
 
On a grill, broiler or a gas stove top, char the eggplant for 10 to 15 minutes on all sides. Let cool; carefully scrape inner flesh off of peel and discard skin.
 
Mash the eggplant to a paste with a fork or in a food processor. Mix in tahini, garlic and lem­on juice.
 
Correct seasoning to your taste; it may need more tahini or lemon juice. Sprinkle with parsley.
 
Store tightly covered in refrigerator.
 
Eggplant Panini
(Dairy)
Since we got our new panini press, my husband and I have been really getting into the variety of tastes you can come up with using it, thereby elevating a “sandwich” to a higher state of being. 
 
2 Tbsps. mayonnaise (regular or low-fat)
2 tsps. dried oregano
2 Tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small eggplant, thinly sliced
1⁄2 tsp. granulated garlic 
8 slices bread
8 thin slices fresh mozzarella cheese
1⁄3 cup sliced jarred roasted red peppers
1 onion, sliced
 
Preheat panini grill.
 
Combine mayonnaise and oregano in a small bowl. Using 1 tablespoon oil, lightly brush both sides of eggplant and sprinkle each slice with granulated garlic. Brush one side of each slice of bread with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.
 
Grill the eggplant slices for 6 minutes, turn with a spatula and top with cheese. Continue grilling until the eggplant is tender and the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes more. Carefully remove eggplant from grill and set aside.
 
Toast the bread in the grill, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
 
To assemble sandwiches: Spread mayonnaise-oregano on four slices of bread. Top with the cheesy eggplant, red peppers, onion and the remaining slices of bread. Cut in half and serve immediately.
 
Rivka Tal is a former Minne­sotan who has lived in Jerusalem for the past 46 years. She is a food writer and translator. Email her at: talriv@gmail.com.

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