Journey Forth

12 October, 2008

Eggplants

Filed under: Food,Life,Random,The Good Life,Thoughts,Vegetables — by Karen @ 9:15 am

The eggplant, also known as the aubergine or the brinjal is originally from India. It is a fruit that is used as a vegetable in cooking.The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. Salting and then rinsing the sliced eggplant (known as “degorging”) can soften and remove much of the bitterness. Some modern varieties do not need this treatment, as they are less bitter. The eggplant is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, allowing for very rich dishes, but the salting process will reduce the amount of oil absorbed. The fruit flesh is smooth; as in the related tomato, the numerous seeds are soft and edible along with the rest of the fruit. The thin skin is also edible, so that the eggplant need not be peeled. Eggplants are a good source of folate, potassium and fibre.

 

My fvourite eggplant recipe is: Moussaka 

Ingredients

150-175ml olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
900g lean minced lamb
50ml white wine (a generous splash)
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 x 5cm piece cinnamon stick
a handful of fresh oregano leaves, preferably wild Greek oregano, chopped
3 large aubergines
salt and pepper
For the topping
75g butter
75g plain flour
600ml milk
50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 medium eggs, beaten

 

Method

1. For the lamb sauce, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a pan. Add the onions and garlic and fry until just beginning to brown. Add the minced lamb and fry over a high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the wine, tomatoes, cinnamon and oregano and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes while you make everything else.
2. Slice the stalks off the aubergines and cut them lengthways into 5mm slices. Heat a frying pan until it is jumping hot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and a layer of aubergine slices and fry quickly until tender and lightly coloured on each side. Lift out with tongs, layer over the base of a 2.5-2.75 litre pint shallow ovenproof dish and season lightly with a little salt and pepper. Repeat with the rest of oil and aubergines and seasoning each layer as you go.
3. For the topping, melt the butter in a non-stick pan, add the flour and cook over a medium heat for 1 minute to cook out the flour. Gradually beat in the milk, bring to the boil, stirring, and leave to simmer very gently for 10 minutes, giving it a stir every now and then. Stir in the cheese and some salt and pepper to taste. Cool slightly and then beat in the eggs.
4. Preheat the oven at 200C/400F/Gas 6. Remove the cinnamon stick from the lamb sauce, season to taste with some salt and pepper and spoon it over the top of the aubergines. Pour over the topping and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Preparation time less than 30 mins

Cooking time 1 to 2 hours

Serves 6

Recipe by Rick Stein

 

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