Eggplant is one of the most under-appreciated veggies in my opinion. Sure, I used to only like it deep-fried and covered in mozzarella & marinara – and is it just me or do restaurants across America think Eggplant Parmesan is the only way to cook eggplant? – but over the years I’ve grown to really love the flavor and richness of this strange looking vegetable (or fruit, if you’re a botanist). These last few months especially I‘ve been surprised to find that I’m perfectly content to simply roast them up whole in my oven, slice ’em, and eat them with just some EVOO and a little salt…a bit boring, but also quick, cheap, and healthy: 3 winning combinations in my book.
The only problem I was having with my new budget-friendly meals was the oil content. I tried applying the EVOO after baking, before baking, to slices in a pan, and slices after steaming. No matter which method I tried, though, my eggplant always turned into an oil-soaked sponge. It wasn’t until I came across this incredibly simple recipe that I’ve been able to have soft, delicious eggplant that didn’t seem to think it was an olive. The addition of lemon and herbs was a great touch, and makes your kitchen smell absolutely delicious in the process.
Easy Roasted Eggplant
1 medium globe eggplant (~ 1 lb)
1 T EVOO
handful fresh thyme springs, or herbs of your choice
4 pinches salt (about ½ teaspoon)
pepper as desired
1) Preheat oven to 400°F. Slice eggplant lengthwise and cut deep cross-hatched in both halves (but do not pierce skin). Push on the edges of the halves to open cuts and sprinkle salt into them (two pinches per half should be enough). Let eggplant sit, sliced-side up, for about 30 minutes to draw out excess moisture. While eggplant rests, prep your baking sheet by covering it with parchment paper and laying sprigs of thyme (or your chosen herb) down where both halves will go.
2) Once eggplant has rested, gently squeeze the salty water out of the halves and blot dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. Brush both halves generously with EVOO and place them cut-side down on top of the beds of herbs. Roast in the oven for 40 – 50 minutes or until eggplant appears wrinkly and slightly collapsed. When fully cooked the cut-side of the eggplant should be a dark caramel-color.
3) Allow eggplant to cool on baking sheet until cool enough to handle – about 10 minutes – before gently flipping. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and extra herbs, salt, or pepper to taste. Serve whole with lemon wedges as the main dish or scoop the flesh out for use in other recipes (like that yummy baba ghanoush!)
I really wish I had thought of this recipe on my own, haha. It’s so simple and not only does this recipe get rid of the oil-sponge problem but it lends even more flavor to the eggplant without overpowering it in any way. Forget heavy-breading and drowning sauces: a little citrus and herb goes a long way! Oh, and your wallet and waistline will thank you. 😉
Overall Enjoyment: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥