To be honest, this post is mostly happening because I can’t stop eating eggplants. It’s totally selfish and entirely about me. This has happened before - August comes, and that means the fun eggplants come out, miniature versions of the monsters available year round, and I fall back in love. I eat them morning to night, in succotash and on their own. These are the eggplants you can’t find in the grocery store. Yes, this means you need to get off the couch and go to the farmers market. If that doesn’t excite you, you need to rethink your summer priorities. Look for the smaller versions of the dark purple, almost black eggplant that is familiar, or do as I do and look for the fairy eggplant, Japanese eggplant, the black magic, the easter egg, or the sweetest of them all: the white eggplant. White eggplants kind of look like big eggs, which only makes me like them more. I usually buy the ones with the softest skin. It works best for what I’m about to suggest, although they’re so cute you’re going to want to buy all of them.
After four years of eggplant experiments, I’ve found that the way I prefer to eat them, at least in the summer, is on their own. Maybe a little tahini or lemon, but that’s it. Yes, you can slice them, olive oil them, and bake them. But really what you want to do is wrap them up in tinfoil and put them in the hot coals of a grill, or on the direct flame of a stove. In that case, no tinfoil is needed, just know that your stove top might get a tiny bit dirty. But it’s worth it. What you’re gonna get at the end is something smokey and something sweet. For the stove, pick an an eggplant, wash it, and take off the small prickly green parts at the top so that you can really get at the whole thing. No use wasting the top part. Then place it on the stove so that its sticking straight up vertically. Yes, it sounds weird, yes it will get results. Turn the flame on medium - or medium high if you’re like me and ready to eat fifteen minutes before you start making food - and slowly rotate it about every thirty seconds, until the skin starts to char. Let it char slowly. It’s only going to take about five minutes total, so you can let each side go for about forty seconds. After about three minutes, use a towel to lift it up by the top, and feel it. If it’s firm, it needs more time. If it collapses under your touch, it’s ready. Let it cool, and then peel the skin off. It should come off in big chunks and the eggplant flesh underneath should be creamy, white, and yield to a fork.
If you’re serving for people, serve them whole and let them crack the shell off on their own. Playing with your food is fun. Don’t take that way from people. If you’re on your own, which is a great way to go about this, then make three of them, take the skin off, and let them cool. Eat them standing up, while watching a great bad TV show, and slowly let yourself get totally addicted to the entire process. The best way to take this to the next level is to heat up a thick pita bread in the oven, cut it in half, and slather each half with hummus. Put the eggplant between, and squeeze a little lemon on it. If you’re really looking to get fancy, you can slice a hardboiled egg and add that, and if you’re a hot sauce person, go for it. But if you’re alone, I suggest letting the eggplant go solo, and getting another one started while you let the first ones cool.