With eggplant season drawing to a close, and in the spirit of continuing my review of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, I decided to try Mark Bittman’s recipe for “dry-pan eggplant.” This recipe is also on the book’s list of “20 essential vegetarian dishes” and it well deserves its spot — it is fantastic!
I started with three eggplants and my trusty all-clad skillet. I cooked the whole eggplant over medium heat, in a completely dry pan, for about 20-25 minutes until the skins were slightly charred and the flesh soft. Interestingly, though the recipe calls for “slender” eggplants, I found that the fatter, rounder, older eggplant I used turned out much better than its skinnier, fresher counterparts. It was juicy, whereas the other two were a bit dry.
Here’s what the eggplants looked like after being cooked (photo above). My only quibble with this recipe is that it does not specify what to do with the charred skin — it says it’s “a thin, crunchy, smoky delight” but it was so burnt it seemed unappealing. I compromised by scooping out most of the flesh, but leaving a few bits of uncharred skin. I chopped the flesh, and mixed it with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
The result was this creamy, smoky, lightly lemony spread, that was perfect spread on toasted bread as a cocktail nibble. This would also be a great side dish with simple fish or chicken, or (as Mark B. suggests) a filler for stuffed eggplant. My only other quibble with this recipe is that it doesn’t make enough, but maybe that’s just because I’m greedy and this eggplant was extremely delicious.