There's No Egg in Eggplant
Today I spent a wonderful morning at our local farmers' market with my wife and two young kids, and one of the things that repeatedly caught my eye was the abundance of beautiful, shiny, purple-black eggplants. Everywhere I looked, each stall had a huge, overflowing basket of this often misunderstood, underappreciated, and underused wonder of late summer.
Apparently, eggplant is classified botanically as a berry, but for most purposes it is talked about and treated as a vegetable, so that's how I plan on referring to it. While not hugely popular in most American kitchens, eggplant is actually an extremely versatile ingredient, with the ability to shine within many different cooking techniques and positions on the menu, from hors d'oeuvre to soup, salad to main course.
As a chef instructor at the ultra-French Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, it's unfortunate that we don't have a whole lot of eggplant-centric recipes in our curriculum. Don't get me wrong; the French (especially in the south and west) love their eggplants and make great use of them in stews, casseroles, and gratin-style dishes. But, as is the case in many culinary schools, the main use of eggplants typically occurs in the one or two international cuisine focused classes the students take further on in their schooling. Before coming to culinary school, many of our students, even some of the older ones, have never even tasted an eggplant, let alone purchased and used one in a recipe they've made.
So, for all of you eggplant novices, I'm going to include one of the simplest, and most delicious, recipes you could ever hope for. Don't be scared, there really is no mystery with preparing an eggplant. Here's what you should do: Heat your oven to 425 °F and cut one large eggplant in half lengthwise. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on a sheet pan and place the eggplant on top, cut sides down. Roast in the oven until the eggplant halves look wilted and are very soft, maybe 30-45 minutes. Let the eggplant cool enough so that you can pick it up, and use a large spoon to scoop the flesh out of the skin and into a bowl. Add to that one or two cloves of finely minced garlic, a squeeze or two of lemon juice, a good pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper, and a couple chopped up tablespoons of any fresh herbs you have around (my favorites are parsley and basil). Side note: should you happen to possess in your pantry a jar of the middle eastern sesame paste called tahini, now would be a great time to crack it open and add a good scoop to the bowl (the resulting dish would be close to what's commonly called Babaganoush in the middle eastern kitchen), but if not, no worries, it isn't absolutely essential. Grab you potato masher, and go to work on the goodies in the bowl.
Once you've formed a chunky looking puree, there you go. Get out the crackers, pita bread, celery sticks, etc. and start dipping! Or, use it as a spread on a sandwich or toss it with cooked pasta as a quick and easy sauce component. Let me know what you think...I hope you'll love it as much as I do.
Browse Culinary Arts Schools & Colleges
- Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
- Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
- Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
- Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
- Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
- Flexible Scheduling
- Financial Aid
- Transferable Credits
- Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
- Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
- Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
- Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
- Flexible Scheduling
- Financial Aid
- Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
- An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
- 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
- Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
- Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
- Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
- Ranked the 13th Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
- A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
- Its student-faculty ratio is 12:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
- Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
Sullivan University is a private institution of higher learning dedicated to providing educational enrichment opportunities for the intellectual, social and professional development of its students.
- Students get real-world experience through the required externship at the end of the program.
- Curriculum includes laboratory sessions, academic preparation and hands-on experience.
- Program objectives are to provide students with skills needed for cooking wholesome, attractive, food preparations and to assist graduates in obtaining positions in the food service industry.
- Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
- Has campuses in Melbourne, Sarasota, and Tallahassee, Florida
- Gives students the opportunity to earn their associate’s degree in the culinary arts field in less than 15 months or bachelor’s degree in the food service management field in 2.5 years through their year-round schedule.
- Located in Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia.
- Offers externship experiences to students for experience in the field.
- Hosts regular career fairs for employer recruitment.
- Has student housing available.
- Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).