Here is the deal, I originally bought three eggplants at Aldi because it was such a deal. I let said eggplants get a little squishier than they should be, so I decided to pick up more eggplants just in case. I figured that when I would slice into the squishy eggplants that they would be a lost cause.
This was not the case.
I had five eggplants, two of which went into the delicious eggplant parmesan last post.
But I took on the responsibility of the last three eggplants, and ownership and care of eggplants is not something I take lightly after almost losing two. It is a very serious matter.
Eggplant is basic and simple but also complex and tedious at times, but don’t let that convince you not to try it.
The most basic preparation I had in mind was to just grill them. My parents would slice squash up into wide strips and marinate them in Italian dressing. I think that was when I tapped into my love of vinegar. I liked all things pickled but it was the Italian dressing that really set it off. Italian was also my go to dressing until I did the Whole30 earlier this year and started making my own and I always have it on hand.
Anyway, they would marinate the strips in Italian dressing and grill them and they were to die for they were so good. The char from the grill and the tang from the dressing would just let it all melt in your mouth. I unfortunately didn’t do that with the eggplant because I was stingy with my dressing and I also wanted to get a taste for them in a basic form.
The texture was a bit mushier but I think I may have left it on the grill too long. Otherwise, not really a strong flavor. It is like a subtle zucchini flavoring and the texture wasn’t too appealing since I made fairly large discs instead of thinner slices. I highly recommend you marinate them in a vinegar based marinade and grill them up because it will make your mouth water like it is doing to me now.
I had special plans for the next eggplant, and there have been several posts on how to turn eggplants into bacon.
I got the recipe from Delish.com and you should go check out what all you need because it is simple. It was during this recipe that I stumbled upon two of the best smelling ingredients to ever grace my cabinet. Liquid smoke and smoked paprika will smell fantastic in your nostrils, I guarantee it. Robby didn’t super like the liquid smoke scent but man the smoked paprika I feel like I have taken it for granted.
So many recipes nowadays always seem to call for it, or at least the ones that I find. I’ve always substituted regular paprika and now I will never make that mistake again. I just can’t go on enough about it. I’m sure all of you probably have rooms full of smoked paprika and always have, well, good for you, let me have this.
Anyways, you basically mix up a rub that you brush onto eggplant sliced thin to get a bacon appearance going on and you roast them low for almost an hour. I’m not going to go on and on about how great they smell, but let me tell you, they smelled great.
I left them in the oven a bit long to make sure they get nice and crispy and then left them out to cool a bit longer to ensure they get their bacon-ly shapes. I then proceeded to eat every single one of them with no regrets and I don’t have to justify anything to you.
These tasted awesome just on a piece of white bread. I wished so much that I had tomato and lettuce to make a BLT like the recipe video suggested. It would have been phenomenal. I’ve always liked my bacon to be more floppy than crunchy too so this really hit the spot for me since I haven’t had bacon in a while.
Now, once I went crazy going on and on about eating eggplant this week, I instantly had suggestions for making some Chinese dishes that utilizes this glorious plant. However, they utilize the long skinny eggplant instead of the huge bulb ones that I found. For the recipe that I tried to go by, check it out here and be prepared to hear of all my substitutions.
So, no, I didn’t have the long skinny eggplant, but I was determined to make it work. I sliced it up into wide, but thin slices and then diced it so the glaze would dribble all into the nooks and crannies.
The glaze/sauce though required Chinese five spice powder though, which is not something that I have readily available in my cabinet. So I did a search online for a replacement and on the third page I found one that matched up to the jars in my spice stash. Having no clue what five spice powder tastes like, I went along with it and I have to say it wasn’t awful, but definitely different. (Cayenne, cinnamon and fennel seeds is what I used and now I need to know what five spice powder actually tastes like).
You roast the eggplant slices and then you chop up three whole garlic bulbs in the meantime. Going to stop you there in case you are like me and bought the big fat eggplant and let you know, hold back on the garlic to maybe one and a half if you don’t have too much surface to cover. Roast the whole setup some more and you now have a kitchen that smells entirely like garlic. That’s what the recipe was for, right?
It was still good! I scraped off most of the garlic and went to town on the one covered in green onions because of course I did. The sauce was lightly sweet and savory and really went well with the garlic (in moderate amounts) and the skin was chewy and so tasty to gnaw on for a bit.
I hope that you find all of this information useful in case you too come into possession of three orphaned eggplants. Give them a good home now, on your plates. (Oh God, is this how the witch began in Hansel and Gretel?)