I did it again. I subjected eggplant to the grill once again. It went over so well a couple weeks ago when I made yummy grilled Tomato-Eggplant Tartines from Good Housekeeping, that when I had to try it again! We’re not afraid to try new (and sometimes meat-free) things in our house. Make no mistake, we still live in Texas and love a good steak, but occasionally we don’t need a heavy dinner especially when great produce is in season and on sale!
This time however, instead of a decidedly Italian spin on dinner, I opted for something reminiscent of more Middle Eastern fare — namely Sabich. Sabich (pronounced suh-BEEK) is an Israeli sandwich of eggplant and hard-boiled-egg stuffed pita most often served in the morning. As a dear friend of mine, Faith, firmly believes: it just goes to show that breakfast can also be great for dinner!
In this instance, I was inspired by a recipe from Bon Appetit magazine for Grilled Eggplant with Fresh Hot Sauce and Crispy Eggs. Not only was this a fresh take on grilling eggplant (I know grilling eggplant is still pretty novel, but just go with me here), but I deferred to Bon App’s recommendation to substitute a different variety of eggplant. So many asked me that day why I was buying what I was buying. What I was using it for. What the purpose was (vs buying the regular varietal). Keep reading.
Didn’t know there were so many varieties of eggplant? Only one variety in your local market? That’s OK! This recipe will work anyway! The recommendation was for Japanese eggplant, however the Chinese assortment was only available (besides the regular one we’re all accustomed to here in the US) to me. One positive note is that the Asian breeds have fewer seeds (and thinner skins), thus making them less bitter/more sweet-fleshed than their American or Italian cousins. The bitterness comes from the seeds.
This ultimately yields a more pleasing dish and something to reach for the next time you’re making eggplant parm. Yes, I know, sacrilege. But if it ultimately opens your culinary epicenter to new horizons, experiment away! Food is fuel of course, but I firmly believe it was also created to be enjoyed. Even vegetables.
A simply and perfectly fried egg (sliced) stands in for the hard-boiled atop the grilled eggplant is then drizzled in a rustic sweet/sour/spicy hot sauce and adorned with fresh chopped, deliciously fragrant cilantro and dill. Fresh herbs are always preferred above store-bought dried. Dried have their place, but if you can find fresh ones, the result pays off in dividends.
I understand that purchasing a whole container of fresh herbs may be prohibitive, so I also recommend drying the remaining herbs from the container yourself. You can do this one of two ways. The first and fastest way is by lining a baking dish with clean sprigs of your herb of choice and drying in 180° for an hour or two until the herbs are dry and crumbly to the touch. This will yield a more store-bought-type of result. For superior results, tie small bundles of the chosen herb and hang in a clean, dry, cool, and dark spot for a few weeks until the herbs have dried and are crumbly to the touch. This second approach will leave a better color and flavor in the end even if it takes far longer.
One of my goals is to have a complete garden (including a fragrant herb garden) for both cooking and personal enjoyment! Maybe eggplant is included in this… What are some different varieties of “standard” produce you’ve tried?
What I’m Reading: What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women & the Food That Tells Their Stories by Laura Shapiro