I used to say I don't like eggplant.
But my Italian friend in Syracuse makes eggplant Parmesan that I swoon to think about. He slices the eggplant very thin and stacks the slices between layers of paper towels with lots of salt. After they've released some of their moisture, they're dredged in seasoned breadcrumbs, fried, smothered with cheese and the best tomato sauce I've ever had, and baked. Oh, man.
And we used to make a grilled eggplant sandwich at Greens that I loved. The eggplant slices were tossed in garlic and olive oil, grilled, and stacked with roasted peppers, arugula, and basil aioli on toasted foccacia. Mmm.
Even so, it's a vegetable I approach with caution. Simmered in a stew or ratatouille, there's something about the slippery sponginess that puts me off. But we got two small eggplants in our produce box yesterday, and how could I not fall in love with them? That perfect purple, and they're so light when you pick them up.
So I'm making a Thai eggplant, cucumber, and tomato salad, because we also got 3 beautiful tomatoes, several cucumbers (as well as the cucumbers from our own garden), and a bunch of basil. And I'll throw in one of those fiery red Thai chilies, minced. The marinade is lime, ginger, and tamari. It's a Moosewood recipe, modified.
I'm also working on a curry sauce today. I made some vegetable stock this morning, and I'll put together the sauce later. It's a pretty standard Thai red curry with coconut milk. On my way home from Z's the other night, I snagged a couple leaves from his kaffir lime tree, and I think a few stalks of lemon grass in the garden are big enough to use. J will be out of town overnight, so I'll wait and put it all together tomorrow night. It'll be red bell peppers, roasted potatoes, basil, and summer squash from our CSA farm.