Crazy for Eggplants?

Aug 27, 2015

With September around the corner, I remember a time when I used to get excited about the beginning of the school year. These days I’m excited about the different fruits and vegetables that each season brings–eating Greenbelt grown freshly picked fruits and vegetables is bound to make anyone happy!

With eggplants popping up at farmers’ markets and on-farm markets all across the Greenbelt, there’s plenty of opportunity to enjoy this delicious vegetable. You can roast, fry, bake, and grill eggplants and incorporate them in any number of dishes! You can enjoy all of those recipies all year long by freezing the eggplant pulp. Fire-roasted eggplants are an ideal way to preserve if you want to use them during the winter and spring. With eggplants stored in sealed freezer bags, the eggplant pulp can be defrosted overnight to make sauces, dips like baba ganoush, topped with caramelized onions and some olive oil, and so much more!

Fire Roasted Eggplant

Makes three servings, Ready in one hour

3 Medium Sized Eggplants

Electric Grill

Remove the top grates of your grill, and turn the heat on high until the inside of the grill reaches a temperature of 200C. Once the grill reaches 200C, reduce heat to medium low. Take one eggplant and puncture it several times with a fork and place the eggplant to rest on the bottom of the grill. This ensures that the eggplant slowly roasts while acquiring a smoky flavour from the fire.

Every 15 minutes, rotate eggplants until all four sides of the eggplant have been grilled. The flame and duration of roasting may need to be adjusted depending on the size of the eggplant. If you purchase smaller eggplants (about fist sized) you would only grill them for 30 minutes, 15 minutes one side and flip them only once. If the eggplants are larger in size, you will need to increase heat to medium and continue rotating the eggplant every 15 minutes for one hour.

Once you have removed the eggplants from the grill, let them cool down until you can comfortably handle them. Place the eggplants on a plate and cut them in half. Once you have done this, you will see its white centre; this is ideal, because the brighter the white, the sweeter the eggplant will taste. If the centre has turned brown, the taste is affected significantly.

With a spoon, scoop out the eggplant pulp and place it in a colander to drain. This is a very important step because the drained liquid is very bitter, which in turn will make any dish that you serve the eggplant with bitter. At this stage you can either place the drained eggplant in a sealed freezer bag or you can create the dip or sauce of your choice!

I have spent many summers fire roasting and freezing numerous bushels of eggplant, and my roasting skills have improved over time. Roasting eggplants takes time, but the end result is worth it since you can enjoy the delicious sweet pulp all year round! Hopefully during the weekend you can try roasting eggplants, and if this is your first time, take your time and check on them more often.

Want to know where you can buy eggplants at an on-farm market or farmers’ market near you? Click here to find out.

Check back next week for a post on how to roast and preserve Greenbelt grown peppers!

– Andreea Nicoara

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