Roasted Baby Eggplant

Hello, little darlings! How CUTE are you??? And those little onions cozied up next to you? Just begging me to take them home and roast them…

Wait. I can’t do this.

I can’t write that “Aren’t these adorable little eggplants I found at the Union Square Farmers Market and look at the wonderful dish I made using them!” blog post I was planning to write.

It would be a lie.

Not because I didn’t buy these little babies, or roast them up with garlic and lemon and olive oil and mint to serve alongside roast lamb chops at a dinner party to a bunch of friends who ate them up so quickly that we wished we’d made more. I actually did all those things.

It’s because the one thing I did not do was eat these adorable little eggplants. Because I don’t like eggplant.

Really. I swear, I am not kidding. I can’t stand eggplant.

I know, I know. You like eggplant. You are not alone on this, trust me. Everyone loves eggplant. Everyone, of course, but me.

I know what you’re thinking – How could anyone not love eggplant?

If you really want to know, I’ll tell you. But I’m a little worried that when I tell you, you won’t like eggplant anymore either. Then you’ll hate me for making you hate eggplant and I’ll feel guilty for ruining every future eggplant experience you might have had. So if you’re easily influenced, or worried on this particular issue or wavering even the slightest bit on the whole eggplant thing, then you might just want to stop reading right now and skip down to the recipe at the bottom, which was really very good according to your eggplant-loving compatriots who ate it.

But if you’re still reading, I’ll tell you why I hate eggplant.

It’s the texture. That sort of rubbery soft sensation that feels like you’re eating something you’re really not supposed to be eating. Like…maybe… Oh, I don’t know.. a cooked alien? Seriously, I think if we were to grill up ET and serve him, he would taste just like an eggplant. And if you leave the skins on – well, now to top it all off, you’ve just made my teeth squeak.

You asked…

It took me years to convince Mr TBTAM that I am not an eggplant lover. He’d cook it up and offer it to me, over and over again, as if he’d never heard what I told him last time he’d made it, which was “I don’t like eggplant”. Or we’d be shopping for something to cook for dinner, and he’d say “How about eggplant?” or “Don’t these eggplants look delicious?” and I would remind him, yet again, that I DON”T LIKE EGGPLANT. Each time would be a new disappointment for him, and he’d look at me as if he had just realized that I was not the person he’d hoped he married.

Of course, being married 24 years, he’s gotten the point by now, and has taken to broiling his own eggplant when he wants it, then ignoring me while he eats it, or ordering Chinese eggplant when we are out, but then of course I can’t share it, even though he’s gotten half of my pan fried noodles. Fine.

My eggplant dislike is well-known in my husband’s family. I think it may have been a bigger issue for his mother than me not being Jewish, which actually, never seemed to be an issue. Of course, in that family, food is like politics, and we all know where every one stands. Peggy hates eggplant. My brother-in-law doesn’t like fish, but loves milk. Irene used to hate cilantro, but now she likes it in small quantities, but she still doesn’t like goat cheese. Mr TBTAM’s sister doesn’t like sugar in her whipped cream, should we make two separate batches or not? His other sister actually swore off garlic, which in my family would be sort of like me leaving the Catholic church, but worse.

Of course, in my family no one cares what food you like or dislike. They’re too busy eating.

The single exception to my “I don’t eat eggplant” rule was Augergines in Spicy Honey Sauce, which actually looks like a cooked alien but tastes wondrous. Maybe it was because the eggplant is called an “Aubergine”, which distracted me long enough to actually taste the eggplant. But I think it was the honey. I’ll pretty much eat anything if it’s sweet. Which is not to say that if I am coming over for dinner, you should go looking for a great honey Aubergine recipe to serve me, because really, I can pretty much promise you I won’t like it.

But I can promise you that you will love this recipe for roasted baby eggplant. After all, how could you not? Those little things really are adorable.

Just like ET.

Roasted Baby Eggplant

I modified a recipe I found on the Real Simple website. We added in a bunch of those tiny baby onions up there in the photo. Those I ate.

12 baby eggplant
1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Heat oven to 450°F. Slice each eggplant in half lengthwise, leaving the eggplant halves attached at the top. Arrange the eggplants in a baking dish.

Cut the lemon in half. Thinly slice on of the halves into 12 slices, then cut each slice in half crosswise. Insert the lemon slices into the slit in each eggplant, then press some garlic and mint into each slit. Season with the salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice from the other lemon half and drizzle over the eggplants with the oil. Cover with foil and roast, basting frequently with the juices in the dish, until the eggplants are very soft, about 40 minutes.

Remove foil and roast for 5 more minutes. Transfer to individual plates and serve.

19 Responses to Roasted Baby Eggplant

  1. Hmmm, I was wondering what to make for dinner. How about eggplant?
    By the way I think Joan's garlic rule may have been rescinded.

  2. i can't stand eggplant, either — like bananas and raw tomatoes, it makes my mouth feel kind of itchy. ok, i can do very small bits of these, but i don't really eat them.

    my husband, though, would die for your roasted eggplants. maybe i'll surprise him.

    garlic — now, that kind of restriction on cooking would be very hard to live with.

  3. Wow! Thought I was the only one who felt that way about eggplant. I also don't like the squish of mushrooms, although I like mushroom flavor. (Mushroom soup for me! Or mushroom puree stirred into a sauce.)

  4. I totally get it – for about 3 decades I wouldn't eat a raisin because I felt like I was eating a fly – or what I assumed a fly in my mouth would feel like. Then I learned to pair them with something crunchy and voila – I can finally eat raisins. We all have our food quirks. Feel free to stick with yours.

    My one suggestion however, stolen from a restaurant in town called The Tasting Room. Roast your eggplant with a little olive oil, salt and pepper – then put it in a food processor. Layer it over some arugula and feta cheese and eat it as a dip. It's delicious and the texture wont get in your way.

  5. i can do a little baba ganouch — the eggplant is well cooked, and it is mixed with stuff — but i much prefer hummus. really, there is something about eggplant that just doesn't work. and nobody believes me, either. hmph.

  6. Hi, my name is
    Schruggling, and I hate eggplant too. (Hi, Schriggling).

    If you have watched the X-Men series of movies you might remember in the first movie that there was a Senator that was converted into a mutant. He turned into a gelatinous, amorphous blob, then dewatered. This is the image in my head about eggplant. Perhaps when I am old, no longer have teeth and need squishy food, I will give this a better chance, but until then, no thanks.

    There 2 times when eggplant is OK. Never wonderful, but OK. The first is in Imam Bayildi, a Turkish recipe similar to your augergine I believe. My wife prepares this so that the eggplant is on the botton, and is covered with sauted veggies as a topping, similar to a cooked bruschetta, but with the eggplant instead of the bread. I can eat one and enjoy it. Then I stop.

    The second is one particular recipe for Mousaka. (Use John's receipe, TBTAM) The trick here is to put bread crumbs on the bottom of the pan to absorb the dewaterig of the eggplant. In this receipe, the texture becomes far less impactful, and the flavor compliments the cheese and bachemel. This is entirely tolerable, but very rich.

    Otherwise, eggplant is to be avoided.

    However, I am not completely outraged with it like I am with olives and capers. They just adulterate food.

  7. One other comment…

    The baby eggplant, is it grown humanely? I would hate to know that it is grown in confined quarters, shackled, and hidden from direct light just so that it can be sliced up and served with baby onions, baby carrots, baby corn, and veal. However, if it is in fact a free range eggplant, I would feel soooo much better….

  8. Irene – Glad to ehar re Joan. A lilfe without garlic is, well…a life without garlic.

    KG – I DO like the way eggplant looks. It should be on the table with the gourds at Halloween.

    Kathy a – Itch, huh? Maybe an allergy…GOod to hear I am not alone. I really thought I was the only person on the planet who did not like eggplant.

    Anonymous – I LOVE mushrooms!

    Linda – nice try on the pureed eggplant. I'm not buying.Raisin = fly – I like it!

    DHS – I can stomach babganouj, but only for a bite or so, then I am reminded. It's baby alien mash as far as I'm concerned.

  9. kathy a – I know – no one believes me either, and they are always trying to get me to try some other eggplant dish. (See Linda comment above….) 🙂

  10. Schrugglin – I knew we were kindred spirits! As for those two recipes, here's what I say – rather than the eggplant being like bruscetta, I'd rather have the bruschetta thank you. As for the Mousaka, I agree it is tolerable for a few bites, but when was tolerable ever a reason to eat anything? However, if one marries into Greek, one must tolerate eggplant as one might tolerate an annoying relative. No choice.

    Those eggplants up there were from a stand at the Farmers market, which I assume means they were raised locally and with love. One can only hope so….

  11. shruggling — agreed on capers, bleah. but do you hate all olives? what about olive oil? [i'm not permitted to skip the black canned olives on holidays; my son can eat an entire can as a snack.]

    i had a friend who hated onions with a deep burning passion. her mother loved to feed the world on major holidays, and she would always make separate no-onion versions of dishes just for donna. that's dedication.

  12. i'm totally winning the spousal cooking sweepstakes this week. first, there was pasta. then, i cooked up a pot of lima beans that my beloved started soaking [adding some onion and sausage and a few veggies], and did that ever turn out to be satisfying. then, roasted the little eggplants that i will never eat, but a big hit with the eggplant-eater. next, we got a lot of fresh tomatoes from a neighbor, so i roasted a panful of them with some bell pepper and onion, and added that to a new little pot of white beans and lentils, with appropriate spices and some spinach.

  13. I hate any olives but LOVE olive oil. I love eggplant brushed with olive oil, add garlic and shredded mozarella under the broiler.

    But what is most important here?

    TBTAM IS BACK! Yeah!

    XO, OBS Housekeeper
    (P.S. sorry for the song parodies mocking the length of time between your blog posts…)

  14. sounds pretty good actually! i had a patient make me eggplant meatballs one day… that was tasty, never did get the recipe.

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