I love eggplants: they are versatile, easy to cook, and amazingly delicious. From the easy-peasy eggplant rolls, to Romanian zacusca, the humble eggplant is a true star at our table. It is also one of the characters featured in the first edition of Garden Super Hero Tales (Volume 1), and here’s an excerpt, if you want to know her better:
Miss Aubergine, the eggplant, knew a lot about fashion. After all, she’d travelled around the world, from India to China, then to Africa, further to the Mediterranean Sea, and beyond. Yes, Miss Aubergine enjoyed seeing the world, but most of all, she enjoyed learning about the different ways people liked to dress in different countries.
“In India, women wear saris. Chinese ladies enjoy wearing silk cheongsams,” she told Paul-Jules one day, when he came to play in the garden. “In Japan, they wear kimonos, while Arab women like to cover their heads with a veil called hijab.”
“How interesting,” commented Paul-Jules, although he didn’t quite understand what cheongsam, kimono or hijab meant. They sounded big for a little boy.
“Miss Aubergine,” Lady Courgette interrupted, “please be so kind to explain saris, cheongsams and kimonos.”
“Kimono is a special garment, worn only at special occasions by Japanese women, although in the past it was worn every day. But fashion changed, and Japanese ladies enjoyed adapting and creating new styles. The kimono is like a long robe tied at the back with a sash called obi. They have wide sleeves, and different patterns for each season. They are so beautiful and colorful!
“Indian saris are also very colorful, and are amazing. A sari is actually a very long strip of cloth, sometimes many meters long. Women wrap it around their bodies, with one end draped over the shoulder. I love the way they look.
“Cheongsams are not as exciting, but the cut is very elegant. This is why they are worn as uniforms in many restaurants, and hotels.”
The following is a delicious eggplant recipe, atypical and fun, easy to make, and guaranteed a winner at your table. I served it as a main, but you can always use it as a starter, or in combination with other mezze.
- 2 medium-sized eggplants, cubed
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons Balsamico di Modena
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 Capia pepper, chopped
- Preheat oven to 220°C
- In a large bowl, mix oil, garlic powder, salt, Balsamico and soy sauce. Tip in the cubed eggplants, and toss a few times, till the sauce covers the cubes evenly.
- Place eggplant on a backing pan covered with baking paper, and bake, for 30 minutes, turning over once.
- When the eggplant is done, transfer to a salad bowl, and tip in chopped Capia pepper and parsley. Mix gently, with a spoon, to incorporate the ingredients. Taste for salt, and season with more Balsamico and soy sauce if needed.