On more than one occasion, I've been fooled--tricked, even--into the eggplant trap. Allured by the shiny, bulbous and gorgeous fruit, I've naively snapped one up and brought it home as the prize of my farmers market excursion only to be sadly disappointed. Skeptical of being disappointed by something I bring home again, I've resisted the beautiful purple displays, reminding myself I don't like eggplant. But the funny thing is, for someone that doesn't like eggplant, I like it IN a lot of dishes.... so when yesterday afternoon's lunch menu beckoned and my options were quite limited as I take my path to vegetarianism quite seriously, I opted for a grilled eggplant sandwich, sans the cheese, telling myself I could always just pull it off and enjoy the tomato and other "fixin's" between the bread.
Much to my surprise, and sheer delight, I thoroughly enjoyed the fare offered by the Black Lab Bistro. So much did I enjoy the sandwich, I bought a small eggplant while at Wegman's later that afternoon. Before I lost my zeal and enthusiasm, and the ghost of sandwich perfection, I decided today to attempt my hand with my lovely, light purple fruit.
My typical approach to a new culinary adventure (especially one that has failed so many times before) is to read techniques others have used on various foodie blogs I follow. Then, I read numerous recipes. Most of the time, and today was no exception, I use the combination of the technique and ideas from the recipes to come to my conclusion. Simplicity, I've also learned, is key to a first venture.
The result was me eating an entire eggplant over the course of the afternoon. It paired quite well with a slice of fresh tomato pie, though I mostly just nibbled my bakes slices on their own.
Baked Crusted Eggplant
1 eggplant (about 3/4 pound)
1 cup plain almond milk (rice, hemp or soy works)
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic power (divided)
1/4 cup corn meal
1/4 cup masa harina (corn flour)
1 tablespoon olive oil
dash hot pepper
Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds and sprinkle both sides with kosher salt. Allow to sit at least 30 minutes in a colander. Pat dry with paper towel to remove excess water and salt.
In a small dish, mix together the almond milk, hot sauce and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. Set aside.
In another dish, mix the remaining garlic powder, corn meal, masa harina and pepper, hot pepper (and another spice you might like for the coating).
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Spread olive oil in a baking pan large enough for the eggplant slices (cast iron is preferable).
Coat the eggplant slices with the almond milk mixture and dredge in the corn meal flour mixture and place in the pan.
Bake for 15 minutes and flip the eggplant slices, baking for another 10-15 minutes (until nicely browned). Enjoy warm on their own, in a sandwich, with a side of brown rice or as I did today, on a piece of tomato pie!
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