To me, eggplant are a bit tricky. I have grown many type of eggplant, and for some reason in our growing conditions eggplants tend to get a bit bitter. I have pretty much given up on growing any of the European varieties, and instead stick with the Asian varieties, and the best I have grown is the Pingtung Long eggplant. It is an Asian variety from Taiwan. It is the one eggplant that seldom gets bitter. This year I grew that type and also another Asian Eggplant, the Japanese Long eggplant. To be honest, the Japanese variety also can get a little bit bitter at times, but I will go into that more in a minute.
I roast the eggplant at about 350-375 degrees. They are prone to burn if you have the heat too high.
I started with a mix of eggplant, about 8-10 eggplants that were freshly picked. You can see both varieties here. The Pingtung are lighter purple than the Japanese.
Now I know the skin probably has great phytonutrients associated with that purple color, but to me it gets somewhat bitter and tough, so I peeled the eggplant. Then I cut off the ends and cut it in half lengthwise. Another “avoiding bitterness” tip: If there are a lot of large, prominant seeds in the eggplant, it will probably be bitter. To be honest, since I grow my own and have more than I need, I just throw those ones away. I hate having a bitter one spoil the whole batch.
I put about 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on a dark baking sheet. One by one I rub the oil over the eggplant, the spread it out on the pan. The eggplant and the pan should all be evenly and lightly covered with oil. You can use a pastry brush to spread the oil if you prefer, but this method is fast, and afterwards my hands get a little olive oil spa rub. Do you think my hands look soft?
I sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and pop them in the oven. After about 10-15 minutes, when the side that is face down on the pan is brown, I turn them over and let them go for another 10-15 minutes. They should be soft when you press on them, and have some nice browning from the caramelization of the sugars in the eggplant. This is what makes them taste good. If they have not browned after 15 minutes on the first side, you should bump up the heat to 400 if necessary.
Don’t they look yummy? I always eat at least a couple of them just plain right out of the oven.
I now have roasted eggplant that can be used in many different ways. I usually store it in my fridge and have it ready for pasta dishes, salads and sandwiches. Check out my fall roasted eggplant salad recipe which is what I made with this batch!
© 2015. Dayna Green-Burgeson RD, CDE. All Rights Reserved.