One of the things I love about Mediterranean cooking, especially in late summer, are the abundance of recipes that use nightshade vegetables which include tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.
Eggplant is a common vegetable that many people do not like. I know this because my hubz cringes every time I start to harvest them from my garden. However, as much as he turns his nose, he never complains once they’re cooked in a rich bechamel or fried and topped with homemade tomatoes, herbs, and cheddar cheese.
It’s all in the cooking. Adding herbs, cheese, and mixing it in with other vegetables can turn the pickiest eggplant eater into someone that can appreciate their flavor and texture.
A Late Summer Recipe: Turkish Pilaf
I’ve recently started cooking more Turkish food for my family. Many of their meals are similar in style to Spanish cooking; however, it’s their use of spices and dried fruit that have awakened my palate.
This Turkish pilaf is a great example of a meal that has eggplant included within it. It’s first browned in a skillet and mixed into a scrumptious rice made with Turkish spices. For this dish I added dried apricots to the rice while it was cooking. It added a pleasant sweetness that was balanced well by the spices that my children really seemed to enjoy; especially Little Mama.
This Turkish pilaf is a great late summer meal that's a bit sweet and savory. A great meal the entire family will enjoy.
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2” cubes
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 cup white Basmati rice
- 8 dried apricots, finely chopped
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 tsp all spice
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tomatoes, sliced in wedges
- Place the eggplant in a bowl sprinkled with 2 tsp large granule salt. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes to allow it’s moisture to be released. Rinse the eggplant then, using a tea towel or cheesecloth, wring the eggplant out to squeeze out as much water as you can.
- In a skillet or cast iron pan, gently heat 3 tbls olive oil and saute the eggplant until golden and cooked through; 8-10 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the pan and drain on a towel.
- In a separate heavy bottomed sauce pan, gently heat 3 tbls olive oil, add the onion and saute for 4-5 minutes or until the onion begins to turn translucent. Stir in 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp ground corriander. Add the rice and apricots and stir to coat, then add the stock, 1 tsp salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the ground beef, all spice, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp ground coriander in a bowl. Season with 1 tsp of salt and mix well. Roll into small meatballs.
- In the same skillet or cast iron pan that you used to saute the eggplant, gently bring 3-4 tbls of extra virgin olive oil to heat and cook the meatballs until lightly browned and cooked through. Drain on a towel. Add the tomato to the pan and cook, turning, for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the pan.
- Stir the eggplant, and meatballs through the rice.
- Garnish with the lightly fried tomato and fresh cut cilantro.
*Adapted from the essential mediterranean cookbook
Does your family enjoy eating eggplants? Please share your favorite dishes that use eggplants.